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“Use it or lose it!” The ETF’s deep dive into migration, human capital and the labour market in the Western Balkans.

The ETF’s 2021 publication, “Use it or lose it!” aims to understand the impact of migration on the skills pool and skills utilisation in the six Western Balkan countries (Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, Montenegro, North Macedonia and Serbia).  It is an in-depth assessment of the relationships between migration, labour market dynamics and human capital development, and shines the light on how the characteristics of the labour markets and education systems affect migration flows, and vice versa.

Emigration has long been a reality in the six Western Balkan countries but the numbers have steadily increased in recent years, ranging from almost half of the population in Bosnia and Herzegovina and Albania, to one-fifth in Montenegro (2020).  Reasons to move are better employment and earnings prospects, as well as better education and life prospects.  Emigration has affected both the low-educated and the highly educated and Albania, in particular, suffers the impact of ‘Brain Drain’, where the highly educated account for around 40% of the total emigration quota.


The report also looks at education, as the mismatch between the skills acquired in the education system and those needed in the private sector grows ever bigger.  With young people making up the lion’s share of emigrants from the region, it indicates that schools and other institutions have not been sufficiently successful in adapting curricula and programmes to meet the skills demanded in the labour market.


At a time when the world is experiencing unprecedented levels of migration, this report provides in-depth analysis and policy recommendations intended to assist with the proactive management of migration, strategies to create a highly productive workforce, and policies to narrow the gap in economies and labour markets between the six western Balkan countries and the main destination countries.


Read the full report here:

'Use it or lose it!' How do migration, human capital and the labour market interact in the Western Balkans? | ETF (europa.eu)