Expectations Vis-A-Vis Exclusion: Young educated Roma and labour markets in Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina

Since the launch of the Decade of Roma Inclusion 2005–2015 (hereafter: Roma Decade), all around Central and Southeastern Europe, governments have initiated strategies and measures aiming at the improvement of the Roma situation in four key thematic areas: education, employment, health care and housing. The situation of many Roma, however, remains precarious, with entire segments of Roma population remaining poor, uneducated, unemployed and ghettoised. As monitoring and evaluations are largely lacking, especially when it comes to governmental projects, there are no clear indications of success in the implementation of employment-related measures. Successes appear to be few, and by far overshadowed by large numbers of Roma in need of (formal) employment. Governmental measures affect low numbers of Roma, and significantly fail to address the needs of certain subgroups within the Roma population, such as highly educated young Roma.

This shortcoming is particularly emphasized in the broader context of improving education levels among young Roma generations. Numerous education projects and scholarship programmes have increased the numbers of young Roma in high schools and universities. At this moment, there are already generations of fresh Romani graduates, with their numbers increasing by the year, whose tertiary ducation has been strongly affected by affirmative action measures. The problem, however, is the lack of opportunities awaiting these young Roma. In shrinking labour markets, there is already a scarcity of jobs. Roma, in addition, are faced by potential racial discrimination by employers. Furthermore, for those young graduates who manage to find their place on the labour market, their positions are in many cases relating thematically to Roma issues, and the instances of young educated Roma employed in professional positions that are unconnected to the Roma sphere is not common.

For these reasons, this research paper addresses the position of young educated Roma in the labour markets of two neighbouring countries: Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina. The paper analyses relevant public policies in both countries, juxtaposes them to the expectations and actual experiences of young educated Roma in search of employment, and ends with a set of proposals on how the current situation could be improved.

This paper is a result of a research project developed within the Vienna-based ERSTE Foundation’s Fellowship for Social Research, and hosted by the Ecumenical Humanitarian Organization (EHO), a non-governmental organization based in Novi Sad, Serbia. The author would like to express her gratitude to both organizations for allowing her to conduct research on this topic. The author would also like to thank all young Romani students and professionals from Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina, as well as representatives of institutions and non-governmental organizations (NGOs), who kindly agreed to be interviewed and shared their views and experiences. Their cooperation and support is very much appreciated.

This paper can be accessed on demand, please contact the fellow directly.

Tatjana Peric

PhD candidate, Centre for Gender Studies, University of Novi Sad, Serbia

  • Topic of the paper:Expectations against exclusion: Young educated Roma and labour markets in Serbia, Macedonia and Bosnia and Herzegovina
  • Research interests:Race, ethnicity, gender, migration, discrimination
  • Email:t.peric@uns.ac.rs