Step by Step, Jobs Come Back to Bosnian Town

Newly trained and hired workers of the Prevent Step factory in Bugojno, Bosnia and Herzegovina
Newly trained and hired workers of the Prevent Step factory in Bugojno, Bosnia and Herzegovina
USAID WHAM project
Workers learn new skills to gain employment and remain in region
“Working will allow me to become independent, remain in Bugojno, and secure a better future for myself.”

August 2018 — Emina Subašić is one of 100 unemployed people receiving the chance to learn new skills to get a good job — and stay in Bugojno, in central Bosnia and Herzegovina, where they have family, friends and history. For Subašić, the training has made all the difference.

The region where Bugojno is located suffers from high levels of emigration and decreasing population due to a lack of employment opportunities, especially for youth. Workforce training gives local citizens a new choice, one that allows them to remain in and contribute to their community.

“Not all young people want to leave this community,” said Subašić, a former trainee who now works at Prevent Step, a footwear factory in Bugojno. “I am very happy for this job and for what I learned in the training. Working will allow me to become independent, remain in Bugojno, and secure a better future for myself.”

In June, 19 new employees began working for Prevent Step. They are part of a larger group of local citizens who have been receiving USAID-supported technical trainings through the Hastor Foundation.

Prevent Step, which exports all of ifs footwear to Germany, Italy and Austria, needed to expand production capacity to meet the growing demand of new buyers, such as well-known European brands Paul Green and Haflinger. In July, the company opened a new, state-of-the-art production facility, an important investment in the economic development of the Bugojno area. The company currently produces 600 to 700 pairs of shoes per day; the new facility and additional trained employees will help increase daily production to 2,000 pairs per day.

The workforce training in the Prevent Step factory was made possible by a grant from USAID’s Workforce and Higher Access to Markets project to Hastor to provide a total of 100 unemployed workers from the Bugojno region with the manufacturing skills needed to work in modern factories. Prevent Step is expected to hire at least 60 of these trainees by the end of 2018.

Prevent Step management says this type of training creates a win-win situation: It strengthens the company while increasing employment and keeping young people from leaving the community.

Skilled labor in an increasingly global competitive world is essential, but for many Bosnian businesses, recruiting skilled labor is a long, expensive and often unsuccessful process. Businesses want to invest and create new jobs, but the skilled labor pool just isn’t there.

“I can say with certainty that all employers are always seeking skilled workers,” says Seid Fijuljanin, executive director of the Hastor Foundation. “Workers are also beginning to understand that they can remain in Bosnia and Herzegovina if they are willing to train for highly skilled positions.”

Launched in June 2017, USAID’s Workforce and Higher Access to Markets project stimulates job creation by increasing Bosnian exports to European Union and regional markets. The project improves the capacity of high-growth, exporting and export-ready small and medium-sized enterprises via cost-share grants in the sectors of metal and wood processing, textiles and footwear.

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Last updated: August 07, 2018

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