EU for Youth initiative

Young people are the drivers of change. That’s why investing in youth is at the heart of EU cooperation with North Macedonia.

The EU is behind many initiatives that aim to improve the lives and future opportunities of young people.

Ultimately, the goal is to contribute to making the region an attractive and inclusive place for young people to live, work and realise their ambitions.

How is the EU responding

The younger generations are an important focus of EU work in the region. In cooperation with partners, the EU invests in youth through programmes in many areas – education and vocational training, entrepreneurship, culture, research, inclusion, cooperation and reconciliation, civic activism, and all sorts of exchange programmes for learning and personal development.

EU support has already helped many young Macedonian entrepreneurs to start, manage and grow their own businesses. Thousands of students have gained new skills by training, studying or volunteering abroad. Many young artists have taken up opportunities to develop their creative projects and reach new audiences.

The EU also encourages the active participation of young people – to get involved in policy-making and shaping and grassroots activism, and take the future into their own hands!

EU priorities for Macedonian Youth

  • Job creation – Primarily by facilitating access to finance for young entrepreneurs and small businesses. By providing guarantees for local banks, they can more easily lend to young entrepreneurs or SMEs, creating jobs for young people.
  • Skills investment – Through schemes such as Erasmus+, vocational education and training (VET), and investing in digital to help close the skills gap in the technology sector. A Youth Guarantee scheme, which already exists across the EU, aims to guarantee that all young people under the age of 29 years old receive a quality offer of employment, continued education, an apprenticeship or traineeship within four months of becoming unemployed or leaving formal education.
  • Active participation and reconciliation – Through projects such as the Western Balkan Youth Lab, which stimulates conversations between young people and policymakers, and through support to the Regional Youth Cooperation Office, which plays a crucial role in building trust and dialogue.

SRPC ‘EU for Youth’

The purpose of this contract between the government of North Macedonia and the European Commission is to invest in the improvement of the employment of young people in the country. The target of this action is based on the knowledge that the best way how to improve the chance for long-term and the high-quality job is to provide high-quality and modern education and training. Therefore, SRPC ‘EU for Youth’ provides direct investment in the implementation of reforms in the field of:

  • Early intervention for young jobseekers (profiling, counselling, job-search assistance) and
  •  Improvement of quality of vocational education and training.

In both fields ‘EU for Youth’ doesn’t present ‘one-shot’ action but deep systematic reform of the system of employment services and VET, instead. In order to ensure a sustainable and long-term positive impact on the employability of young women and men in North Macedonia.

‘EU for Youth’ thus provides investment in the vocational qualification, skills and preparedness of young people to enter the labour market. It is upscaling selected Vocational Education Training Centres into centres of excellence able to ensure modern work-based learning practices and quality education. Further, it is supporting the smooth transition from school to work, by implementing a Youth Guarantee scheme for young people, neither in employment nor in education or training. The contract thus should contribute to the improvement of the employment rate for young women and men.