Multi-dimensional Review of the Western Balkans

From Analysis to Action

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The Western Balkans region has come a long way over the last two decades in achieving economic and social progress. Its people are the region’s greatest asset. Yet faced with a lack of opportunities many, particularly the young, decide to emigrate. To make the most of its future the region must invest in its attractiveness as a place to live, work and invest in.

This report comes as a follow-up to the earlier publication Multi-dimensional Review of the Western Balkans: Assessing Opportunities and Constraints. It builds on an extensive peer-learning process that brought together experts from across the region and beyond. The report provides suggestions and recommendations for three strategic priorities that can help create opportunities and boost the quality of life. First, better education and more competencies are the basis for raising productivity, creating jobs, encouraging civic participation and making the region an attractive destination. Second, social cohesion is the bedrock of resilient societies and requires stronger labour market policies and effective social protection that can cushion people’s hardship and provide them with new opportunities. Third, cleaner air and more sustainable energy are indispensable for boosting the region’s quality of life and economic opportunities.


Boosting education and competencies in the Western Balkans

Better education and more relevant competencies are prerequisites to boosting productivity, creating jobs, encouraging civic participation and making the Western Balkans an attractive place to live, work and invest in. This chapter puts forward policy recommendations to strengthen education systems at all levels and to build competencies both within and beyond formal education. Over recent decades, Western Balkans economies have made important progress in modernising their education systems, notably with the development of core competency-based curricula. However, people across all age groups still lack competencies relevant for the labour market and for civic participation more broadly. Boosting youth and workforce competencies can foster innovation and unlock new opportunities. Across diverse policy areas, priority should be placed on technical, cognitive, social and transversal competencies, and on creating strong partnerships, especially between the education system and the private sector.



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