Rebuilding a Life: New opportunities for Kosovars returning homeMay 11, 2016
Three years ago, Liridon Kuliqi, originally from Gllogovc/Glogovac in Kosovo*, arrived in Austria in search of a better life.
During the seven-month period he lived and worked there, he faced a number of struggles: “Although I was schooled to work as a pharmacy technician, I could only find a job in the construction industry or other heavy work”, explains Liridon.
It wasn’t until he returned to Kosovo and registered with a local employment office that Liridon found the work he was educated for. Within a month, he had signed a one-year contract with a pharmacy.
Liridon, like many other people who were readmitted, has taken advantage of one of the various active labour market measures in Kosovo. These include on-the-job trainings, wage-subsidies, or self-employment promotion and business financing to launch start-ups, all supporting jobseekers to become economically sustainable.
Such measures, provided by the Kosovo institutions and UNDP, have supported 1,130 readmitted Kosovars since 2012. They also aim to strengthen private sector enterprises through expanding their workforce with subsidized employment, allowing for growth at lower costs.
Not everyone is as lucky, however. With about 17,000 persons having returned to Kosovo mostly from Western Europe during 2015, more than three times the year before, many readmitted job seekers do not possess the skills or education that would help them in finding employment. Many have never had a job in their life. Some had left everything behind, quit their jobs, and sold their property in order to find a better perspective elsewhere. Many find themselves in dire economic circumstances.
The re-integration of repatriated persons is a top priority on the agenda of Kosovo institutions. Indeed, one of the prerequisites for the recent positive developments in the visa liberalisation process for Kosovo was that institutions work directly with repatriated persons to improve their socioeconomic status.
A set of measures to facilitate the process of such re-inclusion embraces provision of urgency benefits and measures upon arrival, provision of transportation, accommodation or housing, education services, social assistance and, ultimately, sustainable economic integration, employed mostly in the service sector.
While the number of readmitted persons is increasing rapidly, given the recent migration trends in Europe, the economic outlook has not improved as dynamically. The slow growth of the private sector in Kosovo has been able to provide employment only for a limited number of people, and the unemployment rate is on the rise - currently at 35%, highest in the Western Balkans.
Still, there is an increase in the participation of women in the employment schemes. Women, often with no previous job experience, now represent around 30% of the beneficiaries within the programmes, a hopeful development.
Repatriated from Germany, Nadire Pllana is now working as a marble tiles painter: “I had to find a job. I had never worked before and I was worried about being able to support the eight members of my family. This was a burden I could not bear. Then I got a call from the employment office, saying that there is an opportunity for me. I immediately ran to apply for the job and here I am today”.
* References to Kosovo shall be understood to be in the context of Security Council Resolution 1244 (1999)