(CNSNews.com) – The U.S. State Department, through the Agency for International Development (USAID), has announced that it will award up to $300,000 for “workforce development” in Serbia.
The Republic of Serbia is in southeastern Europe, north of Greece and surrounded by Bulgaria, Romania, Hungary, Croatia and Macedonia. It has a population of 7.26 million.
“Currently, there is a mismatch between private sector needs and the capacity of the existing workforce, which continues to contribute to the high unemployment rate, especially among youth,” said USAID in a March 29 announcement.
“Therefore, USAID/Serbia has identified workforce development as a means to address the broader problem of unemployment,” reads the announcement.
The current national unemployment rate in Serbia is 25 percent, although the unemployment rate among youth is nearly 50 percent nationwide, according to USAID. Many communities, the agency added, are experiencing levels of unemployment far higher than 50 percent.
The USAID is soliciting proposals, “Concept Papers for specific activities related to workforce development (WFD) in Serbia,” reads the announcement. “USAID/Serbia is interested in addressing workforce development challenges in ways that advance the respective interests and objectives of both USAID/Serbia and the private sector.”
“The estimated dollar range of requested USAID funding cannot exceed 300,000 USD,” states the agency. The proposals must also include private-sector matching of funds with the government requests on “a 1:1 basis and preferably at a significantly greater level.”
The agency added that it is seeking to accelerate the transition of the Serbian economy and support the European Union integration process by seeking to engage private sector partners with the public sector.
The USAID noted the impact the global economic and financial crisis has had on the country in recent years.
“Serbia’s continued constraints to growth include an unacceptably high rate of long-term unemployment; a substantial share of the economy under state ownership; a large current account deficit; poor growth in output from the manufacturing sector; and, a high level of foreign debt among private companies and households,” said the USAID.
A growing national debt is also a cause for concern among many Serbians.
According to the CIA World Factbook, the national debt in Serbia topped $48.2 billion in 2012, or about 61.5 percent of the country’s total GDP during that year.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the unemployment rate is 7.6 percent in America but some 89.9 million Americans have dropped out of the work force -- up 9.46 million since Barack Obama was first inaugurated in January 2009.
In addition, the unemployment rate for African Americans in America is 13.3 percent, and for Latinos the rate is 9.2 percent. The number of Africn Americans not in the labor force is 11.7 million; for Latinos, 12.9 million.