LABOR MARKET OPPORTUNITIES

I believe that at the heart of any successful business story is a great idea. Sometimes idea inspiring a project is so simple we wonder how nobody thought of it before. Some others are so revolutionary we wonder how anybody could've thought of them at all. At one thing I am sure, there is no magic formula for eureka. But that doesn't mean there's no formula at all. We should be creative, but proactive as well, that could allow us to get inspired by the needs of our society and wider, or by different successful ideas and projects developed elsewhere in the world.

It`s not necessary to be an economic expert to be able to understand what market fragmentation, limited labor force skills, and high unemployment of youth, in the context of the Western Balkans represent. It`s an undeniable diagnosis that follows the region like a shadow, decades after war, escalating nowadays in a situation in which young, educated people are leaving. In contrast to that scenario, which I believe is the worst, there are alternatives, such as fostering entrepreneurship potential, promoting innovation and internationalization that are paths able to promise far way better future outcomes for the region in general. Therefore, actions undertaken by authorities are essential to introduce a model of entrepreneurial learning and knowledge transfer targeted at young people, as well to encourage new business models. One of the potential actions could be creation of the startup accelerators, in a form of private-public partnerships, where the fund of the accelerator would stem from the state (acquiring money through EU funds for such programs), and from the private owners. Similarly, establishing connection between entrepreneurs with universities/university students could also bring about many new ideas and innovations. That could be way to attract and to make young people think twice when preparing to leave the region, and to encourage cooperation between them, giving young people reasons to stay. Moreover, it will provide for a useful model in bringing youth needs together with the market demand, and will thereby in the long run secure competitiveness of the Balkan area.

Although the population of my country is less than a million, our young people are talented, innovative and able to compete with their mates from the rest of the world, by presenting their original ideas. This statement can be depictured by numerous examples, among which is the innovation developed by two electrical engineering graduates from Montenegro. They designed a "smart hive" for beekeeping, and found an answer to the pervasive question why bees are massively extinct around the world. It also transcends a deeper message and alarms to the world about the importance of bees in the ecosystems. This project got numerous awards, among which - as the best innovation in the category "Business and Commerce" at the prestigious World Summit Award in Vienna last year.

One more interesting idea, which could serve as a good example for encouraging cooperation between universities and entrepreneurs is developed at the Faculty of Natural Sciences and Mathematics in Novi Sad, the so-called "Fe juice". It is the beverage for improving anemia - result of the long lasting study of the absorption of iron conducted at the university, which won the second prize at the prestigious competition for the best business ideas in the field of food held in Budapest few years ago.

Problems that youth belonging to the “startup world” are facing are common to the entire Western Balkan region. These issues are often related to minor or non-existent accelerators (funds) for startups, as a result of deeply entrenched belief that startups are risky investments. Unlike this logic, in the Western Europe there are a lot of so-called spin offs – which are companies created and funded by universities aiming at creating new developments. That generates a simulative environment for both, students as well as for the professors. Our region should be led by this positive example and should strengthen the cooperation of relevant public institutions and civil society organizations. In that way a platform of dialogue and common commitment would be created, and it would provide young people in the region with a more inclusive, supportive and enabling environment. Only then, we would be able to compete on an equal footing with our comrades from the rest of the world, and to contribute more successful with our ideas to our countries, and to the world as well.

According to stories of many successful entrepreneurs, besides more or less unique business idea, weight should be given to the process of its realization. In other words, sometimes our idea, although not revolutionary is able to bring success. I believe that two things are of utter importance for a successful entrepreneur, namely vision and persistence. You should believe in your vision, because the environment most often does not understand and does not support innovations. Visions acquire support at the later stage, along with success. The other aspect is persistence, or our readiness to work hard and to be patient. In line with that, we should be driven by the motto that the extraordinary things are happening only to prepared minds, so let`s be among them!

Author: Bojana Lalatovic

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Bojana is passionate and has an inspiring knowledge in Politics and European Integration processes. Currently, she is working as a Trainee in the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Montenegro, Operational Communication Center in Podgorica. While previously she has worked in the NGO sector working in the area of EU integration and raising awareness for EU process and perspective for the Balkan region what is more she has also volunteered for the Red Cross Offices in Niksic.  

She has finished her BA in Political Science from the University of Montenegro in Podgorica and holds a Master’s Degree of Law in European Integration from the University of Belgrade in Serbia.  

Bojana has participated in the ERASMUS + mobility programme at the University Roma Tre, Rome in Italy. She speaks four languages, Montenegrin/Serbian, English, Russian and Italian.  

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