UNICEF and partners are implementing a programme that helps young people in Serbia get their first work experience
Pozega, Serbia, June 2022 - Kristina Stojanovic (25) recently got her degree and is now a Technology and Biotechnology Engineer. When she started university, she dreamed of a career in an industrial facility. But she never dreamed that the road to her first work experience would be easy. From the experience of her older colleagues, she was expecting that she too would enter a vicious circle – employers asking for work experience even for a first job, without providing young people with the opportunity to gain it.
The problem is that most employers expect us to have work experience, but if they don’t make them available, we’ll never get it, says Kristina.
But thanks to the Promoting Youth Employability Through Internships Programme, implemented by UNICEF and its partners, a large number of young people in Serbia are being given the opportunity to get their first work experience. Among them is Kristina, who is just finishing her two-month paid internship in the Jelen Do company.
“When I got this internship, it was the way I imagined my first job. Everyone is friendly, ready to help me. They’re aware that this is my first job out of university and that I’m in the process of learning and that’s why I feel accepted. After my undergraduate studies, I continued with my master's studies. Now I’m in the process of learning thanks to this internship. I’m successfully balancing everything for now. It works for me and I’m glad that I can return to Cacak, my hometown, and that I’ll stay here to work,” explains Kristina.
Danijela Stanojevic (24), from nearby Guca, has the same expectations. She has a degree in Economics. And like Kristina, after finishing her studies, she started looking for a job, knowing that she needed patience and persistence for the journey ahead. She registered with the National Employment Service. And with their help, she was able to land her first work experience job as an accountant in the Jelen Do company.
I thought it was going to take a long time to find a company where I could do an internship. Because just like for any other job, you also need to have work experience to be an accountant. So, I registered with the National Employment Service and they suggested this programme. This opportunity means a lot, because after university, which is mostly theory, there is this other side which is the practical part of accounting. There is a lot to learn here about software and the law,Danijela describes her internship.
For young people in Serbia aged 15 to 24, the labour market is an unfriendly environment, and finding a job is one of the biggest challenges, mostly due to lack of work experience. More than one in five are unemployed. Unlike in European Union countries, where about 16% of young people are unemployed.
That’s why UNICEF and its partners are encouraging companies to become part of the Programme. That way that young people can have the opportunity to improve their economic standing, while companies are engaged in corporate social responsibility.
So far, 1,500 young people have applied for the Promoting Youth Employability Through Internships Programme. Some of them have already started their internships in companies that have joined this Programme. One of them is the Jelen Do company from Pozega, in western Serbia.
“Our company’s vision is to - Contribute to a better world - and we’re doing it by supporting the UN goals," explains Katarina Todorovic, HR at the Jelen Do company.
"One of them is quality education. We believe that it’s our duty to provide young people with quality education through internships, through mentoring. This project is important for our company. We are implementing it in cooperation with the CARMEUS Foundation. What was important for us during the entire project implementation and candidate search is the support we received from UNICEF in organizing promotional activities and from the GI Group for the candidate selection process. As for the colleagues working directly with interns, they’re really satisfied. They say that they show great enthusiasm, that they want to learn, which is a really good sign, and we are looking forward to having more interns.”
Danijela and Kristina expect their first work experience jobs to be a springboard for their future careers.