NGO Local Initiative LINK designed this project to increase the skills of youth and enable their inclusion into the labor market, creating internship and employment opportunities. The aim was to contribute to the overall program objective – improving the employability of Kosovo youth, and implementing measures adapted to the needs of vulnerable groups (in particular, minorities, returnees) and employers. The program was aimed at youngsters from targeted municipalities (Mitrovica North and Mitrovica South, Zvecan, Zubin Potok) who – after the successful completion of the project – were given a chance to demonstrate what they learned from the training by enrolling in internships at various companies operating in the Mitrovica region. This model is perfectly suitable for both the participants who will have the opportunity of employment after the completion of the programs, as well as the companies who will offer internships for the participants, thus infusing their marketing activities with a dedicated person serving this purpose.

The project was carried out by Local Initiative LINK through the newly established Mitrovica Innovation Center and lasted for seventeen full months, which was an extended period in comparison to the initial timeframe – due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The project targeted unemployed Mitrovica region youth from minority communities, aged 18 to 35, including those from the municipalities of Mitrovica North and Mitrovica South, Zvecan, and Zubin Potok. All interested candidates were invited to apply through an open call, submitting required documents (CV and motivation/cover letters). After shortlisting, all applicants were invited to a written test (English language, marketing, and social media basics, computer skills – sample test attached to this report), while 72 of them actually enrolled in the test. Out of this total number, 20 candidates with the best scores were invited to attend an eight-month program covering all training.

Within the project “Manage the Future – Learn Skills, Employ Yourself,” NGO Local Initiative LINK has implemented various in-depth activities targeting youth from disadvantaged communities. Although riddled with challenges due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, this was a growth and learning experience for our project team. The lessons learned and issues resolved were used to strengthen our internal capacities, make us more resilient in the face of hardship, and help the community we work with find jobs and obtain skills. We had to invest additional efforts in ensuring the project is fully implemented due to the said challenges. Building strong ties with participants, companies, and other project beneficiaries was of the utmost importance in this regard. Project objectives and expected results as presented in LINK’s project proposal: •  Up to 20 unemployed youth will have the opportunity to increase their skills, knowledge, and network in highly in-demand fields. •  Out of this number, at least 15 youth that successfully completed the training program will have an opportunity to participate in an internship scheme. They will firstly gain professional experience in working with companies, organizations, institutions and eventually secure their future employment. • At least 15 local companies, organizations, institutions will participate in the Career/Job Fair. At least 10 of them will benefit by having a skilled workforce assisting them in promoting their business and expanding the market. •  At least 40 youth will participate and/or attend the Career/Job Fair and have an opportunity to meet professionals and company representatives. The project has fully achieved the expected project results, as explained in detail in the mentioned sections.

Project supported by GIZ.