The Covid-19 pandemic hit the CEE economies after a few years when employment rates had been slowly improving across the region, albeit with significant national differences. The ensuing crisis has exacerbated underlying vulnerabilities of the regional labour markets and has created a sense of urgency about addressing structural employment challenges. In 2020, due to lockdowns, confinements, and other restrictions, CEE countries lost on average 8 per cent of their total working hours. Workers suffered income losses and firms saw their assets depreciate. When people are back to work after the crisis, they are likely to work fewer hours than they wish and often in sub-optimal conditions of precarious, informal, and low-wage work (6 out of 10 jobs in Albania are informal). In countries where unemployment levels had been gradually falling over more than a decade, the low labour force participation represents the biggest challenge to policy-makers (only 3 out of 10 women older than 25 years of age were active in Bosnia and Herzegovina before the crisis; in Montenegro, over €100 million in wages and tax payments are foregone every year due to the thousands of women in their prime who are willing to work but inactive due to family responsibilities). Young people have taken the brunt of the crisis. In Moldova, young people aged 15-29 are twice as much at risk of becoming NEET (neither in employment, nor in education or training), compared to the EU-27.
The ILO offers four main interventions to overcome these challenges:
- Tested roadmaps for the modernization of public employment services, including through digitalization;
- Technical tools to improve the efficiency of labour market policies, including activation policies for women and young people;
- Local employment partnerships as an innovative and decentralised approach for job creation and transition to formality;
- State-of-the-art solutions for labour market information systems and diagnostics providing the evidence needed for policy-making.
Contact: Daniela Zampini, Senior Specialist, Employment through firstname.lastname@example.org