3.5 Million Euros for Education and Employment Sector in North Macedonia

Ministry of Labour and Social Policy (MLSP) together with the Ministry of Education and Science (MES) successfully prepared a disbursement request covering 3.353 million EUR. Ministry of Finance (MF) has submitted the request on Tuesday 31st May to the EU Delegation in Skopje reaching thus the condition of the Sector Reform Contract (SRC) ‘EU for Youth’. Requesting amount presents the second variable tranche of 3-years EU budget support for the implementation of education and employment sector reform.

The main base for requesting an annual financial tranche is a self-assessment report describing the implementation of SRC ‘EU for Youth’ in 2021. The contract between the government of North Macedonia and the European Commission contains a list of particular commitments presenting concrete measures in order to improve the national system of secondary vocational education and training system, the system of adult education as well as provision of employment services focused on young jobseekers. These are parts of joined Youth Guarantee (YG) program which North Macedonia began to implement in 2018 as the first non-EU member state.

National Employment service agency (ESA) has successfully registered new 19,322 young jobseekers (9,663 of them women) to YG offering them immediate employment measures aiming to increase their employability. Immediate intervention led to finding new jobs for 7,135 (incl. 3395 women) YG participants. The percentage of participants who successfully completed the Youth Guarantee reached 41% (8,064 persons). All data related to target regions of the SRC ‘EU for Youth’ were overachieved last year.

Significant improvement in public finance management (PFM) in 2021 was reported, as well. PFM Reform Programme has been equipped with a well-designed 2021 Action Plan which has been implemented by the adoption of new regulatory law as well as by practical implementation of new rules (e.g. Public Debt management strategy or establishment of working groups for management of public investment). Accessibility of public budgetary information is assured by two websites: Citizen’s Budget (http://budget.finance.gov.mk/#published) and transparency tool Open Finance https://open.finance.gov.mk/mk/home. A package of transparency measures, including the disclosure of information on crisis-related funds and their recipients, has also been implemented – https://finansiskatransparentnost.koronavirus.gov.mk/#/payments-details.

Even if SRC ‘EU for Youth’ assumes a decrease of early school leaver rate to 7% in 2022, MES even overachieved this indicator last year by 4.6%. National institutions prepared a process for validation of qualifications for non-formal and informal learning but no one was formally adopted due to missing legal base. This base will be established by the New Law for Adult Education, the pending issue in the national parliament.

The establishment of new Regional Vocational Education and Training Centres (RVETCs) presents the most complicated challenge. It contains physical upgrade and renovation of selected VET schools (in Kumanovo, Tetovo and Ohrid) deeply harmed by COVID-19 pandemic restrictions in 2020 and the first half of 2021 as well as by the unprecedented rise in the price of construction works. Process of public procurement of construction works as well as of new equipment for VET provision present another related weakness.

On the other hand, after initial problems related to budget cuts in 2020, ESA successfully completed modernization of two employment centres (Kumanovo and Tetovo) last year.  Another 50,000,000.00 denars are budgeted for 2022 in order to finalize modernization of other 4 employment centres.