Past projects

Generation "Getting Nowhere"

The Transitions of Unemployed Youth in Transitional Macedonia

The overall goal of this project was to provide a comprehensive analysis of the position of youth in the labor market in Macedonia - especially the unemployed youth - in order to identify the reasons behind the staggering number of unemployed young people and clear the way for informed, data-based policy and intervention proposals. More specifically, we wanted to understand the pathway of youth transitions from education to employment; particularly how different levels of education influence the destination of young individuals in employment or unemployment. 

The specific objectives of this project, which was funded through the Regional Research Promotion Programme for the Western Balkans, were the following: (1) To provide current and detailed data on the demographics and the educational pathways of the unemployed youth compared to those of their employed peers; (2) to identify the connections and barriers that youths encounter in their transition from education to employment in Macedonia; (3) to use the data to inform and sensitize the public, especially the youth, leading to mobilization via public debate and active participation through proposing solutions.

This project resulted in the research paper "Generation Getting Nowhere: The Transitions of Unemployed Youth in Transitional Macedonia," which provided a detailed description of the individual predictors of youth [un]employment in the Republic of Macedonia. Due to the changing political and economic context in the country over the past 20 years, we provided a comparative analysis of the youth and the older generation and examined whether [or not] the predictors for employment are consistent over time. The emphasis of the study was placed on education and studied the relationship between one of the most eminent bricks of human capital and employment status in an uncertain transitional economy with high unemployment rates. Objectives in this space included an investigation of the relationship between the level of education and employment status among Macedonian youth when accounting for age, gender, ethnicity, social status, social network, place of residence, education attained by respondent's parents and number of children and to compare the results of the youth sample with an older sample (29 years and over); investigating whether [or not] there is a change in pattern i.e. do the predictors explain the same amount of variance in the employment status as in the youth sample.

Our study was based on a survey conducted on a representative sample, using hierarchical logistic regression analysis. It revealed that when variables are held constant, such as the level of acquired education, the Macedonian youth is seriously disadvantaged in the labor market. This was confirmed by the fact that the education of the respondent's parents, rather than their own education, better predict employment and that the predictive power of the social status and the social network are stronger than that of education. This is especially true for the younger generation where social status and networks are one of the few demographics that successfully predict employment, whereas the predictive power of education is practically nonexistent.
The results of our study provided new policy-relevant data and calls for serious revisions in labor market and education policies. The implication that the investment in higher education does not benefit the individual in the labor market (especially for the young generation of Macedonians) calls for a closer analysis of the utilization of human capital in the country, the quality of higher education and the structure of the labor market in Macedonia. It also provides evidence for the need to revise current active measures aimed at increasing youth employment.