Within the regional project “My Career from Zero to Hero”, implemented by the partners from Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, Kosovo, Montenegro and Albania, BeeZone Business Incubator of Center for Youth Education (CEM), organized an interactive online conference “NEET 4 Change – the Invisible Resource”.

The conference dealt with the status and needs of NEET population (Not in education, employment, or training) in Bosnia and Herzegovina, an invisible resource for social development through entrepreneurship in IT sector, the fastest growing one in the modern age.

The Program Manager of CEM, Nedim Pripoljac, pointed out that the main goal of the project is to create the network of CSOs in Western Balkans, which are empowered to work with the target group directly and create opportunities for their employment and self-employment, using one-stop-shop methodology.

„This methodology will provide the NEET population with educational programs, comprehensive support for the development of their business ideas, funding opportunities and mentorship, all at the same place”, Pripoljac explained.

Center for Youth Education has also created the first comprehensive mapping study concerning NEET population’s needs and status, needs and possibilities offered by the employers, state agencies and CSOs in Bosnia and Herzegovina. The study reflects the challenges which the state agencies and CSOs, working with NEETs, face, and the strategies to be used to establish the communication among them and the NEETs.

According to Pripoljac, the last census in Bosnia and Herzegovina (2013) showed that this country has 770.000 young people, but only 40% of them are employed. Assumingly, around 20% of them are NEETs, so the conclusion is that there are around 100.000 youngsters in Bosnia and Herzegovina who are not employed, or in the programs of formal and/or non-formal education.

The study also analyses the NEETs’ possibilities for employment, self-employment and entrepreneurship in IT jobs, the possibilities for further education and retraining for IT sector through the programs of formal and non-formal education, and funding opportunities to strengthen the infrastructure of the CSOs which implement the entrepreneurship development programs for the NEETs, altogether aimed to boost the NEETs’ employability and their competition on the labor market.

Mersad Husić is an example of a successful young man who couldn’t find a job related to his profession and joined the programs of CEM’s BeeZone Business Incubator, which he found the best opportunity for his self-employment.

„The mentoring and financial support I got through BeeZone were what I needed to implement my IT business idea. This project surely is an excellent opportunity for the youngsters, and I hope we will soon get new young IT professionals in Bosnia and Herzegovina”, Husić said.

On the other hand, Alen Stojak sees CEM’s BeeZone incubator as a unique place offering youngsters numerous resources and opportunities for employment and development in general.

“As a young person I find this project a good opportunity for my further education, self-employment and starting my own business”, Stojak added.

The Conference panelists: Jasmina Suljović, Nedim Pripoljac, Mersad Husić, Muhamed Softić i Erol Mujanović, agreed that youngsters’ employment i a high-priority issue in all the Western Balkans countries where this project is implemented.

The four-year-long project „My Career from Zero to Hero“ is implemented by the partners from Bosnia and Herzegovina (Center for Youth Education), Serbia (Center for Youth Work), Kosovo (TOKA), Montenegro (Forum MNE) and Albania (Youth for Social Change), and funded by the European Union.