Muamer Bandić: By investing to opening new jobs in B&H
Muamer Bandić, director of Labour and Employment Agency of B&H, in his interview for TIS, among other things, talked about the current condition of employment and unemployment in B&H, the way in which the unemployment rate can be reduced, more favorable jobs and deficit jobs, and he also commented the fact that from day to day more BH citizens express intention for going abroad for work.
TIS: What information do you have regarding to employment and unemployment in B&H?
Mamer Bandić: According to the latest data on the last day of July, in B&H there were 486.309 unemployed persons registered on record of Labour and Employment Agency of B&H. Also, according to the latest data of Labour and Employment Agency of B&H, 747.759 persons were employed in B&H, in June. On the other hand Labor Force Survey, which is the only internationally comparable document on labor market trends in B&H, conducted according to the ILO and EUROSTAT methodology, says that in April 2017 there were 815.659 employed persons in B&H and 210.678 unemployed persons. On the basis of the above data, it is clear that B&H still has a big problem with unemployment, and that we still have a problem with undeclared work. Estimates from entity trade union still indicate that the number of undeclared workers ranges between 150.000 and 200.000 and this is supported by the fact about difference between recorded and survey unemployment. Thus, the number of unemployed persons at the end of 2013 was 553.481 and now there are 486,309 unemployed persons, which is 67.172 persons less. At the same time, the number of employed persons increased from 689.270 in December 2013 to mentioned number of 747,759, which is an increase of 58,489. Since 2014, the number of people who get hired is higher than the number of persons who have terminated their employment on all grounds.
TIS: How can unemployment rate be reduced?
Muamer Bandić: There are two basic problems of high unemployment rate. One is the insufficient number of new workplaces and the second is the high rate of inactivity in the labor market. To the new workplaces we can come only by investments. However, investments should be enabled, create conditions for them, and not passively wait for them. For this goal reforms have a key role, and only some of the problems that need to be addressed are high labor costs, barriers to registration and establishment of firms, mismatch between the education system and the labor market, poor statistical monitoring of the labor market, poor infrastructure, all the way to political instability. Another major problem is the high inactivity rate. According to the latest data from the Labor Force Survey for 2017. 1.026.337 persons are active in B&H. Vis a vis, there are 1.380.994 inactive people, which makes a rate of inactivity of 57,4%. So, most people are not involved in economic activity in any way, and one of the future challenges will certainly be to translate this population into an economically active population.
TIS: What jobs are sufficient and what are deficient in B&H? With which professions are most likely to get job?
Muamer Bandić: Based on data published by the institutions responsible for the domestic labor market, and according to the number of published advertisements, it is evident that the situation with the most adequate and deficient professions has been the same for several years. The most required professions with university degree in our country are: IT engineer, software engineer, electrical engineer, construction engineer, graduate pharmacist, doctor of medicine-specialist. Profession with high school degree are: salesman and caterer, machine engineering technician, data entry operator, building materials technician, traffic safety technician. And for highly skilled and skilled workers are: installer in construction, tailor, masonry, variant, carpenter, leather worker, asphalt worker, crane operator, CNC operator. According to the data of the same institutions, the sufficient professions with university degree are: graduated Criminologists, graduated economist, graduated lawyer, graduated politologist, graduated journalist, social worker, prof. sociology, graduated pedagogue.
TIS: What specifically do the competent institutions do when it comes to the recovery of the labor market in B&H?
Muamer Bandić: If we observe institutions functioning in the labor market in this way, we can notice two basic roles in this process. The first role would be the one in which the public employment services system participates in the detection of various problems that are present in practice, and at the same time seek for models to eliminate those deficiencies. In this sense, all public employment services are undergoing reform processes that enable more efficient work in the way that contemporary practices, skills, knowledge and technologies are constantly introduced into the work of public employment services. Labour and Employment Agency of B&H is certainly one of the key actors, because thanks to our international connections, we enable the transfer of knowledge from the international level, according to all domestic employment services. Another way of acting would be to propose concrete solutions to the relevant line ministries, and indirectly to the governments in B&H. However, this part goes very slowly because of the complicated constitutional framework, and it moves at different speeds, precisely depending on administrative complexity. The second role of public employment services is a specific focus on unemployed persons and employers. It is dominated by employment support programs (co-financing employers who employ unemployed persons or people who start their own businesses) and increase employability, which are directed, to a large extent, towards hard-to-employ groups on the labor market. In particular, when it comes to the Labour and Employment Agency of B&H, due to its defined competencies, our role is directed towards foreign countries, and on that basis, we have several programs of employment of our citizens abroad. Currently, the employment programs of our citizens in Slovenia are dominant (only 6.212 work permits were issued in Slovenia this year, and from the beginning of the program in 2013 a total of 16.198 work permits) and the Federal Republic of Germany (in the current year 539 work permits were issued, and from the beginning of the 2013 program, 3.240 work permits). In addition to these programs, the Agency is constantly negotiating with various international actors in order to conclude new employment programs for our citizens, in order to protect citizens while going abroad.
TIS: How do you comment the fact that from day to day more BH citizens expresses interest in going abroad for work?
Muamer Bandić: There are several reasons for grow of interest in going abroad. The first is certainly insufficient number of jobs in B&H and high unemployment. The second reason is the conditions of work abroad which are reflected in much higher wages than in B&H. Therefore, today there is an increasing number of people who want to go abroad although they have job in B&H, because here they can’t get the same income for the same or similar jobs as in some countries abroad. And in third place is the fact that after the global economic crisis, the need for labor has appeared in a large number of countries, and nowadays, working abroad is more accessible than ten or twenty years ago. Therefore, the Labour and Employment Agency of B&H seeks to establish intermediation system with as many countries as possible so that people who go abroad would be safe.
TIS: Do you have any message for young people thinking about leaving B&H?
Muamer Bandić: Young people are particularly attractive in the labor market due to the modern knowledge and skills they possess. The Bologna educational process was intended to link the education system and the labor market across Europe and in part succeeded in doing so. Today, young people across the EU, and less often in B&H, decide to use the system and, ultimately, take those advantage on the labor market. It would be unacceptable to send a message to the young people not to think about going abroad when we know that there are higher salaries, better working conditions, opportunities for continuous improvement and promotion, and that there is a lot of unemployment in our country. The fact is that B&H will encounter the problem of insufficient number of young educated workers, but this problem cannot be solved by any appeals or messages to young people, but by the comprehensive reform of society and public policies that are present in the last thirty years.
TIS: How much regional cooperation, or different regional projects, can lead to linking the labor market and creating new jobs?
Muamer Bandić: Regional cooperation and projects have a great impact on the strengthening of institutions operating in the labor market. It is not just a matter of adopting new technologies and methods of work, but about the whole change of consciousness and concept of thinking when it comes to focusing on employers and unemployed people. Today, public employment services in Bosnia and Herzegovina, according to their capacities and expertise, are far ahead of the legal competencies regulating the work of these institutions. It is precisely thanks to inputs from abroad, international cooperation and exchange of experiences, in which the Labour and Employment Agency of B&H may play a leading role for public services that are at this level. Unfortunately, the government does not follow this trend fast enough to change the legal solutions to a greater effect in the work of public employment services. This is sufficiently explained by the fact that for at least ten years, the public employment service has been unsuccessfully seeking the relocation of health care administration so that it can effectively dedicate itself to work with the unemployed. A similar thing is with the keeping of records of unemployed persons, and the difference between surveyed and registered unemployment sufficiently speaks of the need to introduce change.
TIS: Do you have a signed employment agreement with one of the states and what are your previous experiences?
Muamer Bandić: B&H currently has signed employment agreements with the Republic of Slovenia, the Republic of Serbia and the State of Qatar. Also, Labour and Employment Agency of B&H has signed an Agreement on the Employment of Persons with a Secondary Medical School in the Federal Republic of Germany with International Youth Service of the Federal Republic of Germany. At the moment, only the said Agreement with Germany and the Employment Agreement with Slovenia is being implemented, and the implementation of the Agreement with Qatar will soon begin. When it comes to the experience, they are only positive. The most important thing is that this way regulates employment in a way that everything is legal, that our citizens are protected when going to work, that they have the right to legal protection in the country where they go to work, and that they are regularly unregistered with the records of the unemployed, then apply the leg again to the same with all the rights as before the departure. In this way, B&H controls the movement of the labor force, and it has the ability to influence the departure in terms of leaving workers with occupations that are more favorable, and which we have surplus on the register of unemployed persons. This is exactly the case with the implementation of the program with Slovenia and Germany.
TIS: What do you think about Regional Forum on market, Investments and Statistics?
Muamer Bandić: Labour and Employment Agency of B&H is an active participant in this forum. Our wish is to achieve high quality cooperation between certain institutions in the region through the preparation and organization of specific regional projects, as well as exchange of experiences in the field of market, investment, statistics, research and development, as well as projects of the non-governmental sector. Apart from the above mentioned project, it is necessary for all investors who intend to invest in B&H to give a detailed picture of the advantages for investment in B&H and the region, as well as data on the capital market, labor and goods / services, investments, as well as other analyzes of indicators of economic development in the region. It is especially important to initiate concrete projects of development, market, statistics, IT technology, improvement of business conditions, increase of investments, networking of business community and non-governmental organizations on the regional and European market.
TIS: What are the plans of the Labour and Employment Agency of B&H in the period ahead?
Muamer Banduć: In short, the Agency will continue to implement employment programs abroad in the forthcoming period, and, together with the line ministry, initiates the conclusion of new agreements in order to provide legal protection and systematic regulation of the departure of our workers and other labor markets. We will continue to develop partnership relations at the regional and international level with the aim of transferring knowledge and experiences and further strengthening all public employment services in B&H with the aim of bringing the final beneficiaries closer and reducing unemployment. We will also continue to implement social insurance agreements in the domain of unemployment benefits, which allow our citizens to work abroad to exercise their rights, that is, the same rights and foreign workers at work in B&H.