Thursday, 15 April 2021, Ljubljana
ADDRESS OF THE PRESIDENT XHAFERI AT THE 17TH CONFERENCE OF PRESIDENTS OF PARLIAMENT OF THE ADRIATIC IONIAN INITIATIVE TOWARDS A DIGITAL SOCIETY – OPPORTUNITIES AND PITFALLS FOR THE YOUNGER GENERATION ENTERING THE LABOUR MARKET
Distinguished President of the National Assembly of the Republic of Slovenia, Mr. Igor Zorčič,
Distinguished colleagues, Speakers and Presidents of Parliament from the Region,
Ladies and gentlemen,
Allow me to greet everyone following the work of the 17th Conference of Presidents of Parliament of the Adriatic Ionian Initiative and the Strategy of the European Union on the Adriatic – Ionic Region, this time via video – conference considering the circumstances and the conditions imposed by the COVID – 19 Pandemics, as well as considering the importance of the parliamentary support, which is the safest and recommended manner for holding these kind of events. This year, similar to 2020, when the 20 years since the establishment of this initiative were marked, the focus is towards developing and strengthening the safety of the states in the region, deepening the cooperation between the member states, where the Republic of North Macedonia contributes, as a state in the EU integration process. Among the many fundamental and specific affairs discussed at the meetings, this time the focus is on a topic which in a manner is imposed, considering the need of physical distance and respecting the recommendations and preventing the spread of the pandemics, in other words Towards a Digital Society – Opportunities and Pitfalls for the Younger Generation Entering the Labour Market. Certainly this shift towards the digital society would have happened sooner or later, considering the new era, the accelerated technological development, globalization, and the need for unlimited labour market, which certainly is closely connected with the preparation for competitiveness on that market, in other words, educational and professional background of the young generation for their inclusion in the labour market. Realistically, the youth faces numerous problems in the process of enrolment in this market, starting from lack of gained titles, skills in the process of education compared to the realistic needs, the average transition of youth from school to work, which is around 2.5 years, as well as lack of quality working position available to them. This also includes the young people, who are in a midpoint, finalizing their education, are not employed neither started new qualification. The youth, as engine of changes in the society, is our priority group, in other words they are the priority of the decision maker in the states. In this context, the Republic of North Macedonia, in 2016 adopted the National Action Youth Plan, detecting the conditions and providing guidelines for improvement of the situation of young people in the labour market, aiming to decrease the unemployment rate, which is essential, via implementation of quality policies for employment resulting in long term positive development of our economy, as well as adoption of special laws in the aforementioned area. I shall mention only a few: implementation of active employment programs through the Operation Plan, introducing Youth Guarantee, introduction of Youth Financial Supplement, adoption of the Law on Internship and Law on Youth Participation and Youth Policies. The focus of the Law on Youth Participation and Youth Policies is on the shapes of youth organization and their participation in the policy creation process for the youth itself, inter allia, motivating their personal, professional and social development, From this perspective, I can confirm that regardless of the direct negative effects of the COVID – 19 Pandemics on the overall labour market in the Republic of North Macedonia, the effects from the implementation of these mechanisms can be considered successful. Certainly, the Pandemics provokes another reaction as a reply to the imposed conditions. Namely, we were focused on the innovation in the fight for development and in a manner “healing” the economy, which unfortunately, suffered from the strong impact. Undoubtedly, the IT sector is not among the impacted sectors, certainly not those entities that promptly adapted to the new circumstances and shifted their services and production. In this period, the Fund on Innovation and Technological Development, through KREATON, a public call on creation of digital tools and solutions, offering co – financed grants for technological development and surpassing the consequences, public calls on innovation vouchers, including a public call for prompt reaction and digitalization of the municipalities stimulated the academic community. A start up Council and a so called Innovation Fond were established prioritizing the initiative for the establishment of the Regional Fund for Innovations on the level of Western Balkans, aiming to attract digital nomads creating conditions and making the state more attractive destination for them. We shall be one of the rare states who shall offer foreign entrepreneurs opportunity to relocate and work in our state, providing positive effect for the local economy and opening chances for cooperation and networking with domestic start ups. Certainly, I cannot omit mentioning, the Business Acceleration in the State University of Cyril and Methodius, which I believe is well known to the academics participating in this Conference for which I believe, will provide positive effects in the economic strengthening, opening new working positions and competitiveness with the markets of the more developed states, benefiting from the support it receives.
I am pleased that in these odd times, the Adriatic – Ionic Initiative continues to be the family in which we regionally cooperate, share experience, learn and jointly surpass the challenges, easing, broadening and providing free movement, learning, working and upgrading our young generations which are inevitably taken aback from the limitations resulting from the Pandemics. Nevertheless, digital society and green transformation are reality and most importantly, offer limitless opportunities for growth and development only if we assist each other sincerely. This will help us find more appropriate way out from the current health, social and economic crisis.
In the conclusion of my address, I would like to extend appreciation to our virtual host, the President of the National Assembly of the Republic of Slovenia, colleague Zorčič for the successfully organized Conference, expressing sincere conviction that our regional cooperation shall continue to progress and develop for brighter future of our youth and for the overall integration of the region in the European Union.
In the same time, allow me to wish success to our neighbour, the Republic of Albania as next Chairmanship of the Adriatic Ionian Initiative and Strategy of the European Union for the Adriatic – Ionian Region from 1 June 2021 to 31 May 2022.