Supporting Decent Work Opportunities for Young Albanians

venetian mask
Venetian Mask produced in Shkodra, north of Albania. Credit: UNDP Albania

Artan, 22 years old from Shkoder finally has a job-which he calls his dream job. He produces Venetian masks which have charmed him and other people and artists all over the world. If you did not know, some of the most beautiful Venetian masks are produced in Shkoder and Puke, north of Albania. Artan elegantly paints them. 

Over the past 15 years, Albania has experienced one of the largest emigration rates in the world. The absence of decent work opportunities at home and the hope of a better future elsewhere are the main factors behind the urge to migrate, whether within Albania or abroad. It is estimated that more than 40 percent of the Albanian workforce are employed abroad, and at the time of their migration some 60 percent of potential workers were in the age group 18–29 years. This represents a huge loss for the country.

A United Nations Programme worked to address youth employment issues in partnership with the National Employment Service.


  • Direct youth employment services have been provided to 640 youths in two regions
  • 3,600 young people have been involved in career development workshops
  • 240 youths received livelihood and life skills extensive courses

The intervention undertaken was an active labour market measure and combined on-the-job training, vocational training and wage subsidies for disadvantaged youth. The goal was to make young people more employable in today’s labour market, especially those with little or no formal education.

Since the start of the programme more than 300 young unemployed job-seekers have been placed in the work-training programmes, and nearly 90 percent of those have been subsequently employed by the 37 participating companies. One of these companies is ‘Venice Art’, based in Shkoder and Puke. ‘Venice Art’ employs around 70 people.

During the work experience programme, the participating companies paid the social insurance contribution for each worker and retained them for at least as long as the number of months for which they received financial support from the programme.

Flora, another programme beneficiary is employed in one of the participating companies: “After many efforts to find a job I participated in a 6-months vocational training at Bela Confex factory. Following the training I got a job and with the monthly incomes I help my family. I hope this project will be expanded in the future as it is very effective for young people who can’t go to university for social or economic reasons and worry about ever finding work,” says Flora.

“We really appreciate the cooperation with UNDP since many young people have had the opportunity to be trained. Our company benefited from this project by training young employees without using its own funds. This is in the interest of the whole community since Shkoder has a high unemployment rate. We hope to have similar cooperation in the future, involving other companies as well, since there is a large demand for training and vocational training centres in our communities,” says Keti Bazhdari, Bela Confex President.

Albania is the country with the youngest population in Europe, and for youths in urban areas it is much harder to find employment than it is for adults. The unemployment rate for young people aged 15–29 years is 24.3 percent, and up to 70 percent of youths take on informal employment.

This programme component implemented in six Albanian regions by UNDP, one of the programme partners, provided young Albanians not only with hands-on training, but also hope. In addition, it increased their chances of getting their first fulltime decent job. Thanks to the success already achieved, the programme is being replicated in three regions in the north of the country with financial support from the Swiss Government.

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