PUSH THE YOUTH
Authors: Aneta Trajkova, Esma Kaplan, Olgay Erdogan & Miloš Najdanović
Youth unemployment is becoming a big problem for most countries in the world, and Macedonia follows the negative trend. Finally the problem got the attention of the government, and many municipalities started forming youth parliaments to help improve the social, economic and cultural quality of life of young Macedonians. It’s been less than a year since the Youth Council in Kavadarci (Совет на млади) started actively working with the local youth, and yet it seems like their efforts don’t have an expected feedback. Are there no jobs, are young people just afraid, maybe even too lazy to activate themselves or is the Council not doing their job?
We spoke to Daniel Uneski, member of the Non-Governmental Organisation “Zone” which oversees the work of Youth Council. “Zone” appealed to Kavadarci municipality to form a Youth Council, based on the scanning results of the current situation in the city. The guys of “Zone” made an initiative within the city’s parliament to increase youth participation. They built a strategy for the period from 2011 to 2015. The main idea of the Youth Council is for the parliament to hear young people’s ideas and problems, and work on them. Together. The Youth Council represents a bridge between the youth parliament and the local council. Members cannot vote, they can just share opinions and represent the interests of youth. The Council consists of five members: a high school representative, a student, an NGO representative and the representatives from two of the biggest parties in Macedonia – VMRO DPMNE & SDSM. Not everyone can be a member. They need to apply, and then be selected on the elections that are held every two years. Youth can be more involved by volunteering with “Zone” and in that way help out.
“You must push youth”, said Daniel referring to their project activities regarding the Youth Council. Some of the projects the Council has already realised are a three day basketball tournament, a lecture on “Ethics of Youth”, workshops for proper CV & motivational letters writing and a project with kids with special needs. The aforementioned local strategy includes also projects such as running a newspaper or website for the Council’s activities; and the opening of an information center where young people can be properly informed about how to be active, how to volunteer and the different employment opportunities in Kavadarci.
The Youth Council hasn’t yet had any problems with the local parliament. Their main objective is to work on more projects, but they need money to fulfill it. By being included in the local strategy, projects are partially funded from Kavadarci’s budget, but as Daniel says, “ this sometimes isn’t enough!”.
An NGO can accept donations and investments from anyone who wants to help out. “Money may be the biggest issue, but we also have a problem with young people activism, which is on a very low level. At our last meeting a young person told us they have problems, they recognise them but they don’t do anything about them… they’re just sitting, watching and doing nothing”, says Daniel and pointed out that this is not only problem in Kavadarci but also in all of Macedonia.
One of the additional problems in the city, as Daniels states, is also that after graduating, a lot of young people leave Kavadarci to work in Skopje or go abroad. Speaking to young people in the streets of Kavadarci about their employment issues, we found out there are not many job openings, and that they are usually underpaid. Nikola, one of the interviewed youngsters, currently employed in a local coffee bar, says that it took him four months of active job hunting to get hired. “It’s kind of hard in Kavadarci to find a job. It’s really an ‘unemployed’ city and even if you get a job they don’t give you insurance for the first six months”.
Based on the opinions of the interviewed people, only a small percentage of them knows that the Youth Council exists, and let alone have any idea of their activities. Ironically, the older population seems to know not only about its existence, but also a bit of their history. From the looks of it, young people are not properly informed nor interested in their municipality’s activities, as the video presented below shows.