Entrepreneurship and occupations of the future in Kosovo
By Jeton MEHMETI & Rudina HEROI*
‘Most new jobs won’t come from our biggest employers; they will come from our smallest. We’ve got to do everything we can to make entrepreneurial dreams a reality’ – Ross Perot
Kosovo has both the youngest population in Europe – 70% is younger than 35 years old, and the highest youth unemployment rates in Europe – 40% of the total number of unemployed. In 2008 the World Bank predicted that in the next five years another 200,000 young people would join Kosovo’s labor force.
On the other hand, Kosovo generates very few jobs and as a result, competition for those jobs is harsh. Important factors affecting the job-seeking race are, undoubtedly, the level of education, specific skills for specific jobs and the occupation itself. In the last ten years the trend of degrees that young people select to study and occupations they choose to pursue has significantly shifted its focus.
Several years ago, the Faculty of Medicine and the Faculty of Technical Sciences topped the list of students. In 2011, it is the Faculty of Economics, the Faculty of Law or the Faculty of Education that lead. In 2010, University of Prishtina’s Faculty of Economics had about 7000 students.
Similarly, occupations that were once sought after in the market are nowadays considered less attractive by young people. Business management, law, and medicine are now more appealing to job seekers than, say, careers in electrical or mechanical engineering.
In countries with high youth unemployment rates like Kosovo, creating a job versus seeking for and finding one is crucial for economic growth. Kosovo needs creative and innovative young entrepreneurs to strengthen its private sector through new products and services. This would positively influence on decreasing unemployment too, and therefore act as catalysts for economic and social development.
Worldwide, the 2008/2009 global financial crisis has resulted in increased unemployment rates. In Eastern Europe, for example, youth unemployment reached 25%. Since youth unemployment in Kosovo is more challenging, young people should explore alternative employment opportunities, like entrepreneurship, or be open to opportunities in occupations that will be the future of Kosovo’s economic growth.
Where will the job and entrepreneurship opportunities in Kosovo be in the near future? These opportunities will, of course, be in line with the changing demands of the labor and business market in Kosovo. Below is a list of top sectors and specific skills that will be needed increasingly.
Wood Processing Industry. These are companies that manufacture furniture, doors and windows. Research results indicate that six local wood processing companies in Kosovo have an annual turnaround of €1-6 million, which means that this is a highly profitable business. These companies are quite successful, both in the domestic and export markets. However, they lack, for example, staff trained on how to use raw material. As a result, wood processing companies are forced to buy processed material, which bears additional costs. In addition, these companies are finding it hard to employ competent production managers that would make it easier for them to expand their market share or furniture designers to design authentic and modern pieces of furniture that would increase the competitiveness of Kosovo’s furniture in the regional and European markets.
Information Technology (IT). IT is one of the most powerful industries in the world that has bloomed thanks to the quick growth of computer and other software equipment sector. This sector is mainly occupied by young people. Therefore Kosovo has a unique potential to further grow this sector. IT professionals work in several areas, such as e-governing services for citizens; computer software design for institutions, the government, universities, private companies, banks, insurance companies; website design and maintenance, communication between people etc. The need for IT experts in Kosovo is expected to increase due to technological reforms that Kosovo shall have to undertake as a result of the ever increasing number of local companies. This is a good entrepreneurship opportunity as IT experts can always offer e-services through their own companies.
Agribusiness. This is already a profitable activity for many Kosovo families, especially in rural areas where unemployment is more pronounced. Opportunities to work in agribusiness are increasing hand in hand with an increased demand for fresh local products, like meat or dairy products. Small cow farms that sell milk or raise cows for butchering, chicken farms for eggs, milk collection and processing centers for yoghurt, cream etc., have a good potential to be successful. Apiculture, fruit and vegetable cultivation and processing, non-wood forest product collection are other business ideas with potential through which many families can increase their annual income.
Skilled jobs. The need in Kosovo for certified welders or painters is also increasing. Young people still lack interest in such occupations but the good news is that domestic and international companies operating in our country will need more people with certified skills, such as certified welders and painters. Also, other occupations to look out for, which require higher education, are sociologists, psychologists, researchers, data processers and statisticians.
It is difficult to predict with accuracy which occupations will be the most wanted in the market of Kosovo. However, the current trends suggest that it is not very profitable for either an individual or the society in general for some university faculties to have massive numbers of students, while some others are considered as less attractive, in spite of the importance of what they teach. In addition, young people should consider which might be the most sought after occupations after they graduate regardless of what were the most wanted occupations before they started to study. Current students and a group of those who have graduated should consider entrepreneurship as a way of employment. Entrepreneurship may serve as a very important step towards using their knowledge in practice, and why not, building a successful career.
*Authors work for GAP Institute (http://www.gapinstitute.org) The opinions expressed in this article are their personal opinions and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the institution they work for.