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Bosnia and Herzegovina

Since 1997 we have been supporting Bosnia and Herzegovina 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.

Bosnia and Herzegovina has a complex and highly decentralised institutional structure. This makes implementation of reform challenging, but there has been some progress in education. ETF is supporting the implementation of vocational education and training programmes and the development of a national qualifications framework, working with a broad range of stakeholders in the country to develop human capital, including Ministries, Higher Education Institutions and Employers organisations. The challenge is to develop the network and boost cooperation between actors , strengthening links between education and business.

Political context and priorities

High unemployment and an ageing workforce, with only 15% aged between 15 and 24 years, are two major factors impeding growth and progress. The government is seeking to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of delivery of public services and state governance. Key priorities are to boost the private sector and encourage exports, creating a business environment conducive to private investment. To do this, existing labour market rigidities need to be addressed, as well as the introduction of a national strategy on making education responsive to labour market needs.

Socio-economic situation

Very high unemployment and low activity rates persist, mostly affecting women, young people and the long-term unemployed and the country suffers from below-potential growth. Weak activation and employment services are coupled with disincentives to work (untargeted social benefits schemes and unsupportive taxation). The share of undeclared work also remains high. Structural reforms are long overdue, but these are impeded by frequent political stalemates.  The service sector is the largest in terms of employment and value generation with 66.2% of gross value added and almost 53% of employment in 2015 and Tourism remains a key driver of growth. The country is one of the least economically integrated in the region, with an export share of 36% of GDP in 2017, down from 98% prior to the 1992–1995 war.

Education and labour policies

Active labour market policies are mostly focused on employment subsidies and not training programmes and as there is no country-wide strategy included on education and skills, this is a priority for the government. The EU is supporting Bosnia and Herzegovina in developing a qualification framework and in improvements in the quality of teaching and learning.

EU support and the ETF

In 2018 the European Commission is reviewing the application of Bosnia Herzegovina to join the European Union. The EU is supporting Bosnia and Herzegovina in its efforts to boost employment and employability, supporting national stakeholders in designing, implementing and monitoring reforms in specific areas.

As an agency of the EU ETF is working in Bosnia and Herzegovina in:

  • Supporting labour market efficiency
  • Referencing Bosnia Herzegovina within the European Qualifications Framework.
  • Monitoring the progress of vocational education and training initiatives – Torino Process
  • Providing the European Commission as requested with assistance in European Commission reporting and monitoring processes.