My First Salary

The programme My First Salary addresses youth unemployment by providing a salary subsidy grant for the first employment of high school or university graduates bellow 30. It is implemented through a state-of-the-art tech platform that automates the application process, approval and match-making. It is a “zero paper” alternative to what used to be a “complex bureaucratic state support procedure”, combined with a transparent “recruitment procedure” – all in a streamlined and fully digital process.

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The youth unemployment rate across Europe surpassed 17 percent in the summer of 2020 and is probably getting worse as a new tsunami of layoffs due to the coronavirus approaches Europe in the spring of 2021. Young people are not the only ones who have been impacted, but are certainly those who have been most severely impacted. The pandemic comes at a moment which could seriously harm their professional careers, right when they are starting to develop in the job market that has now fewer opportunities and increased competition.

The Government of Serbia launched the program My First Salary as one-of-a-kind program designed to lower the youth unemployment rate in Serbia (25.5% Q1 2020), reduce the waiting time for a first job (currently two years), and bridge the gap between the supply and demand side on the job market. Supported by a digital platform, this programme overcomes the bureaucratic hurdles that might present a roadblock for young people to apply for the participation in the program.

The programme addresses two main target groups: first, young people under the age of 30 with no work experience with a high school or college degree, while the second target group are the employers from the private sector. The priority for participation in the programme is given to employers from particularly negatively affected areas in accordance with the Decree of the Government of the Republic of Serbia on the level of development of local self-government units.

Under this programme, the Government of Serbia offsets the costs for young people, under the age of 30, to work for selected companies by providing “a salary subsidy grant” for a period of nine months. It is aimed to assist both - young people in translating their theoretical knowledge into practice, and companies in meeting their immediate business needs through further recruiting of well-trained professionals who know the company. The programme is well-designed to help the economy in solving the problem of staff shortages.

The implementation of the programme is end-to-end digital by design – a zero paper alternative to the conventional process. The application, approval and even matchmaking process is automated and successfully eradicates the bureaucratic impediments.

The portal serves both the companies and the candidates (jobseekers), firstly to apply for participation in the program and if approved, to match the right talent to the right opportunity. The application and the hiring processes are accelerated by web services that automatically check if the eligibility conditions are met – for companies: whether the company has paid taxes and contributions, the number of employees, etc., and also all the relevant qualifications for the candidates. In order to be able to post jobs, companies must register with qualified electronic certificates, while candidates have to register with basic forms of government-provided eID. The software solution includes AI recommendation algorithm for matching candidates with job pots, as well as visualizations and dashboards.

The idea for the programme came from the Serbian Chamber of Commerce, while the public and private sectors  - including youth organisations - designed this solution together. More precisely, the team to design the programme "My First Salary" was comprised by representatives of the Office of the Prime Minister, the Ministry of Finance, the Ministry of Labor, Employment, Veterans and Social Affairs, the Ministry of Sports and Youth, the National Employment Service, the Office for IT and eGovernment and the Serbian Chamber of Commerce. The team for the design of the portal My First Salary was run by the CEO of the Office for IT and eGovernment, and included project managers, solution architects, engineers, user experience specialists, and a software company.

The programme will have a follow up, where a special team will analyze the results, calculate the decrease of the unemployment rate and the waiting times for a first job as result of the program as well as better understand the supply and demand side for jobs according to regions, cities, professions, age, gender, etc. Based on those results, the program will be modified and implemented every year. The portal will be modified accordingly.

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Year: 2020
Level of government: National/Federal government


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