OECD Reviews of Labour Market and Social Policies: Serbia 2008

A Labour Market in Transition

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To catch up with more advanced economies, Serbia urgently needs to improve the functioning of its labour market. This report reviews labour market trends and the principle challenges to  labour market policy, making a series of recommendations.

Despite many reforms, new business growth until now has been far too slow to compensate for job losses elsewhere. Recent reforms of labour law should be followed up by further efforts to improve the climate for business and productive work. Labour regulations must be flexible, but they should also be enforced more consistently. For all this to happen, it is essential that an effective social dialogue can take place and that it encompasses expanding and declining segments of the labour market.


The National Employment Service and its Programmes

The National Employment Service (NES), a public agency under the Ministry of Economy and Regional Development,1 administers unemployment insurance along with job-brokering and counselling services and other active labour market programmes (ALMPs), mostly regulated in the 2003 Law on Employment and Unemployment Insurance. With 26 main offices2 and at least 130 small outlets, the NES has about 2 100 staff members, of whom 1 100 are counsellors and related groups in contact with clients. The average number of registered unemployed persons per counsellor can then be roughly assessed at about 500, or more than twice as high as in most western European countries. However, if the total staff resources could be related to the number of unemployment benefit recipients alone, the ratio would decline to about 50, which is similar to the corresponding ratios for the best-equipped employment service agencies in OECD countries (e.g. those in the United Kingdom, Germany and Nordic countries).


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