Main image
Thumbnail

Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia

Reforming skills and education policy for a brighter future

Since 2003 we have been supporting the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia to develop education and training to boost employability, increase access to opportunity and promote social cohesion. Complementing the work of the EU’s External Action Service, we bring together ministries and social partners to develop scalable projects.

The ETF is strongly active in supporting the reform of skills and education policies in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia. We sustain the process of education reform, review active labour market policies and create bridges to ensure the match between demand and supply of skills. Working closely with the EU Delegation, our expertise informs and shapes EU financial support to the country. Between 2018 -2020 we’ll be supporting national stakeholders in the following reform initiatives:

  • Reviewing and strengthening work-based learning mechanisms in vocational education
  • Establishing a system of validation of non-formal and informal learning
  • Reviewing Active Labour Market Measures targeting youth and vulnerable groups
  • Upgrading and integrating the different skills intelligence systems of the main stakeholders

Political context and priorities

The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia is exiting from a serious political crisis and the new Government of June 2017 has an ambitious reform agenda. Economic growth, job creation, fair taxation, support for small and medium enterprises and reform of social protection for the most vulnerable are key priorities. In June 2018 EU countries found a conditional agreement to open EU accession negotiations with the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia — and its western Balkan neighbour Albania — in June 2019. Government priorities will from now be closely linked to meeting EU requirements for each of the different sectors.

Socio-economic situation

The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia ranks among the smallest and poorest economies of former Yugoslavia. Despite this, low wages and major improvements in doing business in the country have attracted sizeable amounts of foreign direct investment, strengthening export opportunities. To support export competitiveness, the Macedonian denar is pegged to the euro, forcing the government to run prudent fiscal policies. This monetary regime is reflected in limited budget deficits and relatively low public debt. Unemployment is falling, reaching a historic low of 22.8% in the first half of 2017, but youth employment and long-term unemployment is still high, at 46 and 81% respectively.

Education and labour policies

There are two major strategies in force regarding education and labour policy. The Ministry of Education and Science are seeking to enhance the attraction of vocational education and training, match skill supply to labour market demands, improve work-based learning and strengthen teachers’ knowledge of technology and entrepreneurship. The Ministry of Labour and Social Policy’s Employment Strategy 2016-2020 aims to increase employment, job quality and productivity, with an emphasis on vulnerable groups traditionally on the margins such as women and young people.

EU support and the ETF

The EU is supporting the reform of skills and education policy in the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia through several interventions. Projects so far have supported the development of competence-based qualifications, the Macedonian National Qualification Framework and the strengthening of post -secondary school vocational education and training. Negotiations between the European Commission and national authorities regarding the launch of a Sector Reform Contract (SRC) are almost concluded. This contract will support the implementation of the strategies developed in the education, employment and social policy sectors.

As an agency of the EU our work as ETF focuses on two main areas:

  • Supporting the EU delegation in providing intelligence on the sector and designing and monitoring support programmes on skills and education reform policy
  • Supporting national stakeholders in designing, implementing and monitoring reforms in specific areas. Between 2018-2020 ETF will be involved in the following reform initiatives:
  • Reviewing and strengthening work-based learning mechanisms in vocational education
  • Establishing a system of validation of non-formal and informal learning
  • Reviewing Active Labour Market Measures targeting youth and vulnerable groups
  • Upgrading and integrating the different skills intelligence systems of the main stakeholders