International Labour Organization and UK Government Assist Labour Market in Montenegro

By , 27 Oct 2020, 22:08 PM News
Meeting with ILO Meeting with ILO ILO

New ILO project presented, to be carried out in partnership with the Government of the United Kingdom

October 27, 2020 -  On Tuesday, 27th October a high-level technical meeting organized by the International Labour Organization (ILO) was held in the Crystal Hall of the Hilton Hotel. The event aimed to introduce participants, representatives of the National Employment Agency, the Ministry of Labour and Social Welfare and other partners as well as members of the public, to a new ILO project focused on a comprehensive reform and modernization process within the Agency, to be implemented with government financial support from the United Kingdom, through the Good Governance Fund.

The overall development goal of the project is to improve the operations of the institutions in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, and to mitigate its negative impact on the world of work.

A rapid assessment of the impact of the COVID-19 crisis on employment and policy responses to the pandemic, organized by the ILO and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) in June this year, highlighted the importance of strengthening the role of the Employment Agency of Montenegro in facing challenges to the labour market caused by the pandemic. This role is particularly important given the troubling statistic revealed by MONSTAT of 38,000 fewer people in employment in August this year compared to the same period last year, and given the impact of the crisis on the most vulnerable populations, including young people, especially young women, and people with disabilities.

Through the high-level technical meeting, the ILO and the British Embassy in Podgorica have formally launched a project to provide an answer to the labour market problems caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The need to improve the existing institutional capacities in the field of employment and the labour market had also been previously recognized. The experience of other countries suggests that it is possible, with sufficient political will and appropriate technical knowledge, to transform institutions and create effective mechanisms for implementing policies over a short period of time, in order to promote and support effective labour market management.

At the opening of the event, Minister of Labour and Social Welfare Kemal Purišić addressed the audience stating that support is especially important in the growing global socio-economic crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, which highlighted the vulnerability of all systems as well as the importance of joint responses to existing global challenges.

"The progress that Montenegro has made in the labour market in recent years has come to a standstill due to the coronavirus pandemic. And this is the right opportunity for us to start implementing a project that aims to address the challenges of the labour market caused by the pandemic. Our project is based on the document “Rapid Assessment of the Impact of COVID-19”, which was carried out by the ILO and the EBRD, and which points to the need to improve institutional capacities in the field of employment and the labour market," said Minister Purišić.

UK Ambassador Karen Maddocks stated that examples of project support include steps towards digitizing Employment Agency procedures, including registering the unemployed and linking databases of institutions within the system; work on assessments of the future working capacity of persons with disabilities; as well as qualitative analyses of labour market and economic activities, using data from the public and private sectors, as well as from social partners. Ambassador Maddocks added that the United Kingdom is facing "a similar rise in unemployment. Vulnerable groups, especially recent graduates and women with disabilities, are further at risk.” Ambassador Maddocks also said that “it is equally important to focus on the long-term impacts of the COVID crisis, including its impact on the economy.” She added that public administration is an area where the United Kingdom has a wealth of institutional experience.

Expressing special gratitude to the International Labour Organization for recognizing the need to modernize the services offered by the Agency, but also to the British Embassy in Montenegro and the UK Government for financing the project execution, Director of the Employment Agency Suljo Mustafić said that he believes now is the right time to start implementation in order to face labour market challenges caused by the pandemic.

"The COVID-19 crisis has further emphasized the need for the Agency to act more efficiently and respond more quickly to new challenges in the labour market. In this coronavirus period we are inevitably having to make changes. And with this in mind, the basis of the project activities relate to: creating innovative interventions especially for young people and people with disabilities, improving the compatibility of databases of the Employment Agency, Centres for Social Work, Tax Administration, Pension Fund and other relevant institutions, and auditing internal and external procedures of the Agency, including basic steps towards digitalization, in order to respond to COVID-19,” said the Director of the Agency, emphasizing that he believes that the new ILO project will facilitate the implementation of all future projects and thus have an impact on both the swifter economic recovery and further development of the country.

The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the need for a rapid response from institutions within the system, which is why the joint response and cooperation of these institutions, the ILO and the British Embassy is a key element in responding to the crisis. A quality reform process will also affirm equality and the realization of fundamental rights at work for all citizens.

SOURCE - ILO Press Release

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