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A new project will bridge the skills gap and create job opportunities for women and youth in Western Balkans
June 28, 2024
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A new project will bridge the skills gap and create job opportunities for women and youth in Western Balkans

Youth unemployment is high in the Western Balkan countries while there is a significant shortage of mechanics and truck drivers. To help address this issue, Sweden through Sida, together with Helvetas and Volvo Group, will collaborate on vocational training based on the needs of the automotive industry. Great emphasis will be placed on integrating young women and youth into the labour market and specifically in the transport sector. The project will focus on sustainable and environmentally friendly solutions, emphasizing the skills required to handle the green technology in today’s trucks.

“It is important to provide women and young people with job opportunities that make it attractive and possible for them to stay in the region, and to ensure that these opportunities are also extended to marginalised groups. Equipping young women and men with valuable skills not only enhances their employability but also fosters economic development and regional stability. Also, through this project a more modern technology will be promoted which facilitates greener transport and trade,”

said the Head of Department for Europe and Latin America  at Sida, Lisa Fredriksson

The new project will address the skills gap in the heavy-duty and transport industries by providing specialized vocational education and training (VET) to young men and women in the first instance to Bosnia and Herzegovina, North Macedonia, and Serbia. It will not only equip local youth with the necessary skills to become proficient truck mechanics but also aims to promote gender equality and social inclusion in the industry. The new project will be implemented by Helvetas in collaboration with the Volvo Group and the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida) in the frame of the Sida-supported RECONOMY program. Sida contributes with 17,3 MSEK to the project.

In short, the project is set to provide modern training to respond to changing demands on the market, bring new and more environmentally sustainable technologies, and increase the employability of young men and women.

“With this new project, we intensify our collaboration with the Swedish Government and add the extensive market knowledge of the Volvo Group to empower the youth of the Western Balkans with high-quality, relevant skills that will open up new job opportunities and drive inclusive economic development based on more efficient and greener technology,”

said the CEO of Helvetas, Melchior Lengsfeld.

The project will introduce specialist education for mechatronics in heavy-duty vehicles, tailored for both VET students and adult learners. This rapid-response solution is expected to yield results, thanks to its focus on the pressing needs of the industry. A pivotal component of the project is its commitment to the green transition. It aims to introduce sustainable practices and technologies in the trucking industry. The training programs will incorporate green skills necessary for the operation and maintenance of modern, eco-friendly heavy-duty vehicles, including knowledge of electric and hybrid trucks.

Volvo Group will contribute significantly to the project by providing cutting-edge equipment and expert knowledge, ensuring that the training is aligned with the latest industry standards and technologies.

“We are very happy to be part of this project. It is comprehensive and addresses an important area – to attract young men and women to become technicians and increase their possibilities for employment. At the same time the project will create awareness of the opportunities within our industry, prepare the students with the right skills and offer career coaching. This will secure a good pipeline of competent technicians and ultimately increase customers satisfaction in our workshops,”

said Robert Grozdanovski, SVP Volvo Trucks.

The project also includes significant investments in fostering a supportive business environment that encourages innovation and investment. This holistic approach aims at promoting the creation of more resilient and sustainable systems in the region.

The project is due to start in the coming months with the recruitment of project staff followed by a thorough selection of local schools in the three countries aiming at supporting them in preparing for and conducting the first trainings in September 2025. The first phase of the project will be implemented until the end of 2026.

Sida (the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency) is a government agency working to create better living conditions for people living in poverty and under oppression. Sida’s activities are funded through Swedish tax revenue.

The Volvo Group is one of the world’s leading manufacturers of trucks, buses, construction equipment, and marine and industrial engines. The Volvo Group also provides complete solutions for financing and service. Volvo, which employs approximately 104,000 people, has production facilities in 18 countries and sells its products in more than 190 markets.

Helvetas is an international NGO based in Switzerland. Helvetas is committed to a just world in which all people determine the course of their lives in dignity and security, using environmental resources in a sustainable manner. Helvetas supports poor and disadvantaged people and communities in almost 40 developing and transitional economies in Africa, Asia, Latin America, and Eastern Europe.


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