Implementation of the project "Improvement of labor market research" started in September 2020. The project is funded by the European Union in the amount of 1.28 MEUR, and will be implemented in Bosnia and Herzegovina by the consortium NIRAS IC Sp zoo, GOPA Worldwide Consultants, GOPA mbH Germany, and the Employment Service of the Republic of France. The project provides support to beneficiary institutions in improving active employment measures, improving cooperation with employers, developing employment strategy, assisting in the strategic planning process, and developing a framework for employment in Bosnia and Herzegovina, which is part of the European Commission Opinion on BiH's application for EU membership and a precondition for planning future financial support for the EU labor and employment sector in BiH. Project activities are structured around the five project results
Result 1: Systems for monitoring and evaluation of labour market needs operational
Reform of the Labour Market Analyses will be conducted in two phases:
- Countrywide harmonization of the approach, and survey on COVID-19 impact.
- Introduction of the skills survey for further improvement of the labour market analyses. This will help to define the type, level, and composition of skills that individuals need to perform the work demanded by enterprises. It will improve the job mediation function of PES.
Implementation of this task is based on the coordination of several external stakeholders (projects which support PES) that are already involved in the process. For example, Foundation Helvetas is supporting FBiH PES and RS PES to an extent, while RS PES has engaged an expert to train 5 staff members in their main office. The Working Group oversees the harmonisation of all involved external stakeholders and clarifying their roles.
The project team is focused on the labour market analyses, but also its methodology, which should be consisted of selecting samples, modes of data collection, research design, questionnaires, non-responsive reduction strategies, etc. The proposed research instrument is Employer Survey but also supported by Taxation Office data. As one of the key elements of the new model, the survey methodology is now updated and streamlined across the two entities and Brčko District, without changing the jurisdictions of PESs involved.
Aiming to have a countrywide harmonised approach and produce comparable data, that can be aggregate later at BiH level, the methodology for the labour market analysis developed by FBiH PES was reviewed and adjusted. The approach is harmonized now, not only from the methodological point of view but also timewise, to enable its implementation countrywide in the same time.
Based on information gathered from the previous projects, in consultation with PESs’ staff and other local experts, the methodology is further improved to include two new research objectives, i.e. COVID-19 impact on businesses operations and skills development needs.
The current sample design method is revised, adapted, and agreed upon by the Working Group (WG) with the support of the project team. Also, starting from the previously designed questionnaire, the project team is working closely with the WG on the following aspects: the way of formulating new questions, involvement of needed skills into the questionnaire, the proper scales of answers, editing the questionnaire, using “skips” questions, open questions, etc., and psychological order of questions. Before finalizing the questionnaire, consultations were held with the representatives of employers, to determine their relevance, and whether the collected data already exist somewhere.
Immediately after the finalization of the methodology, training of pollsters took place within Result 3. This activity will be used as an initial capacity-building exercise for cantonal/regional coordinators who should become internal PES trainers by the end of the project.
Due to the COVID-19 social distancing measures, the interviews were conducted by phone, and data collected by pollsters using Computer-assisted personal interviewing CAPI method. Namely, coordination of efforts among external stakeholders enabled PES to obtain the necessary equipment for the implementation of the CAPI method.
The reporting process will not be based only on quantitative data, but also it will be clarified by qualitative data – to better understand data. Although quantitative data are typically viewed as more dependable, objective, and generalizable, qualitative data offer more in-depth, illuminating, and descriptive information, often adding context and clarity behind those numbers. After approval by relevant PES, the final version of the Labour Market Analyses (Employers Survey Report) will be made public by all means of communication bilingually (English and Bosnian/Serbian/Croatian).
Based on the findings of the LMA reports at the level of entities, the project team, together with the teams of the entity institutes, Brčko District, and the BiH Labour and Employment Agency, will compile an ITR report for BiH for 2021/2022.
All necessary guidelines will be provided for the 2022/2023 Report, which will be implemented by institutions independently, without the involvement of the project team.
Result 2: Increase efficiency of the active labour market measures in BiH
The project team will collect to-date analyses and studies already completed through different international projects and local institutions, partners, and beneficiaries active in this field. Together with our partner Pole Emploi, the project could provide examples of good practices and solutions from the European Union.
Our approach to this result is to be closely aligned with the work of other international donor-funded programmes, aiming to establish a unified approach to ALMM assessment. The focus will be on data utilization in refining the service provision approach, including the design of ALMM. Important input for this activity will be report produced with Result 1 – Labour market analyses.
The activity will be implemented in two waves. The first ALMM redesign will be based on impact evaluation data available in 2020, that were produced by other donor-funded projects, and on how to integrate COVID-19 response into ALMM design and implementation. The second redesign will be conducted after the project team and PES staff produce evaluation report in 2021, and 2022.
The continuous redesign of processes is crucial for PESs in times of rapidly changing labour market and fast-changing surrounding conditions. Therefore, ALMM have to change in line with economy needs. The process has to be standardised and of high quality. It is a time- and resource-consuming task, but it does not have an alternative.
The Manual will provide standardization of the redesign processes. Still, designers play an essential role in choosing methods and approaches that are fit for the changing economy. The manual will be input for Result 3 capacity building activities, but also it will be used by PESs as part of their regular ALMM toolkit.
The ultimate goal of the TA team is to enable the beneficiary to redesign independently ALMM, based on evidence gathered through the analytical process. To achieve that, the project team will make an action plan for ALMM evaluation and ALMM redesign for the overall duration of the project. In the end, beneficiaries will be assigned to conduct the first ALMM re-design exercise independently during the second half of 2022, just after ALMM 2022 evaluation finalization.
A group of PESs’ analytical staff and Working Group members will be provided by the ALMM evaluation training within Result 3 of the Project. After the training, PESs’ staff will be assigned to evaluate ALMM together with project team.
Result 3: Trained staff of labour market institutions to implement more effectively active labour market measures focused on evidence-based policy development, cooperation with employers, and improved tools for service delivery
The activities under Result 3 will be very closely related to the result 1, 2 and 4, in a dual manner. The methods and tools for labour market monitoring will be included among the subjects of the trainings under Result 3, but also the whole implementation concept of Results 1, 2 and 4 can be considered as a capacity development exercise, as the Working Group members are taken through the development process together with the project team.
The training plan provides recommendations for short- and long-term trainings in line with project needs (labour market analyses, employers cooperation, ALMM evaluation and redesign, etc.), starting with the most critical priorities from the training options list.
The concept of controlled and standardised training within PES will be implemented in line with the realistic need of PES on strictly targeted personnel involved in activities in focus. The project team will be focused on ensuring the sustainability of training delivery through close work with PES at the entity level, to shift, gradually, the responsibility for designing and delivering the capacity building to PES itself.
The intention is to agree with PES that they introduce the role of Cantonal/Regional/Training Coordinator or persons in charge of training delivery – internal trainers. The aim is to develop internal trainers who will be able to prepare, implement, monitor, and evaluate internal training programs.
The Project will work with an identified pool of trainers to develop their skills in designing an appropriate annual training plan, and coordinate inputs from the various deliverers (academics, projects, etc.). The trainers are employees who have demonstrated strong capability in performing within their specialist area of work, who communicate well, and who are available to take on the educational role offered to them.
The Train the Trainers programme is designed to train PES practitioners in fields related to project topics in becoming institutionally recognized trainers who can then train other professionals to implement procedures.
The program aims to enable internal trainers to prepare, implement, monitor and evaluate internal training programs. Once trained internal trainings will be included in the delivery of trainings.
Related to Result 2, a study visit to an EU Public Employment Service (planned to visit French and Slovenian or Belgium) is planned to learn about their good practices and active labour market measures that have been proven to be most successful (or evaluated as highly efficient).
The project team will propose to involve PES management and operational staff in study visits to make policymakers aware of the change, but also to use operational level employees who will understand topics, detail and who will practically implement practices in the field. The support from the management is crucial but operational staff are the ones who spread the information throughout the institution and whose support is also very important especially due to staff turnover, including in PES management. Representatives will be selected not only for their individual roles but also for their synergies and potential alliances with other participants.
The study visit is an opportunity for public employment service to gather information, knowledge, expand insights, boost motivation, become more international and demonstrate its achievements. However, it is very important for the sake of project intervention to focus on key learning outcomes of study visits such as transfer of specific activities, active labour market measures, promotional activities used in other countries, etc.
Depending on COVID-19 developments, there is a risk that the study visit will not take place as planned. The alternative option is to organize institutional exchanges with EU PES, or webinar with EU PES network, on a topic of project interest.
Result 4: Improved information exchange about supply and demand of labour force in line with international standards
The analysis will be based on primary and secondary research. Primary research will include interviews/focus groups of relevant stakeholders and field visits, secondary research will be analysis of existing available data (including outputs of Result 1), systems, reports and procedures. Important input will be research conducted under Result 1, which has to be integrated as provides significant information on the issue in focus.
The Report will include the current state of affairs, methodological framework, research results, conclusions on the following issues: cooperation between PES and its clients (in particularly employers), quality and quantity of data collected through cooperation with employers, use of these data for job matching purposes, PES sources, technical and legal framework, quality of posted vacancies against international standards (including skills data), recommendations for improvement of the system and harmonization of the approach in cooperation with employers.
As a result recommendations for improvement of cooperation with employers will be provided, or particularly on how to improve the exchange of information on labour force demands and supplies. This research will be input for Result 3 capacity building programme on how to improve cooperation with employers.
The workshop will be dedicated to the presentation of the findings achieved so far by using quantitative and qualitative analysis and administrative data, also aiming to collect feedback from participants on results and further steps to be taken for the reform of the current data exchange system. The main focus will be on:
- Cooperation with PES clients – in particularly employers
- Quality and quantity of data collected through cooperation with employers
- Potential for the usage of those data for job matching purposes
- Available PES vacancies: sources, technical and legal framework
- Quality of posted vacancies against the international standard
- Improvement of the system through improvement of the structure, and harmonization of the approach in cooperation with employers.
Also, the project team will prepare a Report on EU good practice for cooperation with employers and the role of EURES network in this process, including an overview of how EURES (the European jobs network) is organised and functioning, types of services provided, responsibilities of PESs who joined the network, obligations of third parties who join the network, and cross-border activities.
An analysis of potential adjustments for the implementation of the job vacancies’ exchange will be conducted. The analysis will include an overview of what is needed to increase technical possibilities for data exchange, and even automated matching, improving the format of job vacancies.
To develop the proposal, a workshop will be organised, dedicated to the presentation of the findings and recommendations from the two previous tasks, also aiming to collect feedback from participants on results and further steps to be taken for the harmonisation of the approach in cooperation with employers in the vacancy collection process. Based on this feedback, an Action Plan will be drafted with clear steps, roles and responsibilities.
Result 5: Provided support in the development of the strategic framework
Labour Market Strategic Framework in Bosnia and Herzegovina is expiring or was not adopted at all. The only level of government that has a valid strategy is Republika Srpska, but it will expire by the end of 2020. Federation BiH strategy has not been adopted, while at the BiH level the Strategy never came into the final draft phase. The International Labour Organization (ILO) is providing support to FBiH Ministry on the development of the employment strategy. The Ministry of Labor, War Veterans and Disabled Persons’ Protection of Republika Srpska sent a letter to LMR with a request to assist in strategy development. Based on the RS Ministry request, the project team provides technical assistance in employment strategy development.
The project will organize its efforts based on the EU Open method of coordination, and the Guidelines for the Employment Policies, as it has been implemented in the EU. The idea is to develop a procedural method. This method could be divided into three phases. The first phase would consist of two main steps: (1) the identification of common objectives, set out in policy guidelines. This will be taken from EU policy guidelines, to avoid potential misunderstanding between the entities and Brčko District, (2) the development of shared statistical indicators for evaluation and monitoring – each strategic goal will have shared indicators, at least on the level of purpose.
This task will set bases for coordination of strategic development efforts on the state level, and drafting countrywide employment priorities.
The main idea is to create a process of policymaking that does not lead to binding legislation nor require entities and Brčko District to change their constitutional responsibilities. TA team aims to spread good practices and achieve greater convergence towards the main countrywide goals.
After the adoption of entity strategies, the project team will work with MoCA on defining the approach for the development of the countrywide Employment Strategy.
EU Open Method of Coordination implementation will consist of the provision of technical and logistical support to the MoCA during the countrywide employment strategy development. The approach will be to harmonize efforts of all interested external stakeholders, to lead a participative and transparent process of compiling strategic goals and indicators identified at the entity level.
If being successful entity and Brčko District strategies with common objectives, jointly established measuring instruments, and clarified data collection sources and reporting (statistics, indicators, guidelines).
The project team will support MoCA in the identification of common grounds among strategies, but also the acceptable format for its presentation at the countrywide level. As result, the MoCA will develop a draft countrywide employment strategy.
All technical debates will be supported by the project team, but other international organizations will be also invited to support the process and contribute the implementation of the strategy.