Monday, 7 November 2022

Velika Gorica Attracts More New Residents Than Any Other Croatian City

November the 7th, 2022 - One Croatian city near Zagreb has attracted more new residents than it has ''sent away'', the opposite of the trend we typically see in more or less all Croatian towns, cities and villages. Velika Gorica is on the up, it would seem.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes, although in most cities across this country one continually encounters a reduced number of inhabitants as the years go by, there are also those with a positive migration balance.

The 2021 census showed that the total number of inhabitants in the Republic of Croatia had decreased by more than nine percent when compared to the census conducted ten years earlier. This decline in the number of inhabitants was visible across all counties, and one of the factors that certainly contributed to this negative trend is emigration abroad, which only intensified when the country joined the European Union (EU) back in July 2013. With work permits scrapped for Croatian citizens for the vast majority of EU countries and opportunities for a more stable life on offer in countries like Ireland and Germany, this country's already dire demographic trends only went even further downhill.

Velika Gorica, however, is the first on the list of Croatian cities to which more residents moved than moved out, as reported by Velika Gorica's local vgkronike portal. It is followed by Krizevci, Samobor, Cakovec, Dugo Selo, Solin, Sveti Ivan Zelina, Zadar, Sveta Nedelja and Duga Resa, which also showed a positive migration balance It's interesting to note only two Dalmatian areas on that list, with the rest being located in the continental part of the country.

To speak more precisely, a rather impressive 2,203 people immigrated to Velika Gorica last year, and 1,753 left. These figures show an increase in the number of inhabitants by as many as 450 people in just one single year. 717 people arrived in Velika Gorica from abroad, and 620 of them moved abroad.

For more, make sure to keep up with our dedicated news section.

Monday, 14 March 2022

Šuica: With Present Trends, EU Will Represent Only 4% of World Population

14 March 2022 - If the present demographic trend continues, the share of Europeans in the world will fall from the present six per cent to four per cent, European Commission Vice-President for Demography Dubravka Šuica told Hina in Strasbourg where she attended a conference on the future of Europe in the European Parliament this weekend.

"If the present trend of our births and deaths continues, Europe will represent only four per cent of the world population, which is worrying," Šuica said, noting that specific measures for demographic renewal fall within the competence of member states.

Although she mostly deals with young people, and 2022 has been declared the European Year of Youth, Šuica said that the focus should be not only on young people, given that life expectancy is increasing.

"We need the knowledge of older people, their expertise and wisdom, and we should foster intergenerational solidarity," she said.

By 2070, average life expectancy at birth will be 90 years for women, up from the present 83.7 years, and 86 years for men, compared with the present 78.2 years, Šuica said in a report on the basis of which the Green Paper on Ageing was drawn up.

In 2070, 30 per cent of the European population will be older than 65 years, compared to 20 per cent in 2019, and 13 per cent will be older than 80, up from the present six per cent.

Šuica said that 80 per cent of European territory was covered by rural areas, where only a third of the European population live, which is similar to the situation in Croatia. She said that the smart use of regional funds and cohesion policy could improve Europeans' quality of life.

Šuica said that rural areas provide huge potential for children and young people, but unfortunately they often lack adequate services, health care, kindergartens and infrastructure. "Above all, there is no broadband internet, which has become a precondition for job creation. It is no longer a question of where you live, but are you well connected," she concluded.

Thursday, 7 October 2021

Pandemic Worsened Demographic Trends But Also Created New Opportunities

ZAGREB, 7 Oct 2021 - A conference on demographic challenges in Croatia and the EU after the pandemic brought together in Zagreb on Thursday members of the scientific community and government officials who said that COVID-19 had negatively affected demographic trends but also opened new opportunities on the labor market.

European Commissioner Vice President for Democracy and Demography Dubravka Šuica said statistical data for 2020 indicated a continuing decline in the birth rate in the majority of member states.

However, COVID has also opened new opportunities, primarily in the labor market, with increasingly frequent remote work, said Šuica, concluding that digital and green transition had become key to success.

This has opened opportunities for Croatia, not just for its young people but in terms of the country's attractiveness as a place to live in for other European Union citizens, Šuica added.

If we want to keep young people in Croatia and make it more attractive, we have to invest in regional development, transport connectivity, and hyper-connectivity. The European recovery plan, she said, is a unique opportunity to come out of the pandemic stronger, greener, and more digitized.

Šuica noted that in slightly more than a year, demography has been imposed as the third unavoidable transition for the European Commission.

In Croatia, about 100 people are born a day while 150 die

The prime minister's special envoy and chief-of-staff, Zvonimir Frka Petešić, said that the conference needs to include all generations and that today's topic is important for Croatia which, along with another 15 member states, is faced with an aging population.

Croatia's population has been decreasing since 1991, and about 150 people die each day while about 100 are born, which is why Prime Minister Andrej Plenković stressed last year that the nation's demographic survival is a strategic issue, said Frka Petešić.

He recalled that after the European election in 2019, Croatia had asked that the EU's new strategic program include demography as a priority. During its presidency of the EU, Croatia led the process of adopting conclusions on demographic challenges which made it possible for future demographic measures to be financed from European funds.

How much the EU has aged can be seen in data which shows that in 1900 the population of today's EU countries accounted for 25% of the world population while today it accounts for only 5.5%, said Frka Petešić.

For more news about Croatia, click here.

Sunday, 31 January 2021

Much Anticipated 2021 Croatian Census Now Postponed Indefinitely?

January 31, 2021 – Long in preparation and last undertaken way back in 2011, media reports that the much anticipated 2021 Croatian census may now be postponed indefinitely

Preparations for the 2021 Croatian census have been long in the making. Plans have been ongoing since 2016. The last census was undertaken back in 2011 and the population has been impacted by both immigration and emigration since then. But, nobody is exactly sure by how much. This information was just some of the vital data people had hoped would be delivered by the 2021 Croatian census. But, now that may not happen. Some Croatian media is now saying the Croatian census has been postponed indefinitely.

Just one month ago the director of the Central Bureau of Statistics, Lidija Brković, said before the Parliamentary Committee for Local Self-Government that all preparations were being carried out with a view to the Croatian census taking place as scheduled. In an interview with N1 at the beginning of December, Boris Milosevic, Croatia's deputy prime minister (in whose department the Croatian census lies), also said the same.

But the census will not begin as planned on 1st April 2. N1 is currently reporting that it has been postponed indefinitely.

The coordinator for the census in the Central Bureau of Statistics, Damir Plesac, said that the main reason is the coronavirus. The Central Bureau of Statistics does not yet know for how long the Croatian census will be postponed because, as Plesac says, it will depend on epidemiological measures and the decision of the government and parliament, which must change the Census Act.

Croatian media ascertain from his answers that the census might not be expected to be completed before June 2021. To the question “is it weeks or months of delay?” Mr Plesac answered that it would be months.

Most of the Croatian census will therefore be moved until after the local elections in May. In their coverage of the census's indefinite postponement, the national portal Index reminds that some campaigning taking place in the run-up to these elections is focussing heavily on the numerical and demographical information that the Croatian census would provide.

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Tuesday, 14 January 2020

Croatian Brain Drain Second Only to Maltese Demographic Crisis

The Croatian brain drain is second only to the Maltese demographic crisis, recording the second largest brain drain in the European Union. The entire region and the countries of the former Yugoslavia are massively affected by the departure of the population, but where does Croatia stand in comparison to other ex-YU countries?

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes on the 13th of January, 2020, In 2019 alone, the most people to have ever departed to date left neighbouring Bosnia and Herzegovina, about 60,000 citizens, while in 2018, about 40,000 left that country.

The departure of residents, especially young people, from the Balkan countries to the economically highly developed countries of Western Europe is one of the biggest problems facing all the countries in Croatia's immediate region in recent years, writes Anadolija. Although accurate official data from state institutions on this crucial social issue is still lacking, it has long since become clear that this is a worrying demographic trend and that the Croatian brain drain is reaching alarming depths.

According to unofficial data and estimates of certain Croatian and international organisations and associations, almost every country in the Balkans is annually left without a population the size of a smaller city. There has been a steady increase in departures from Bosnia and Herzegovina over the last six years. Since 2013, more specifically since the Bosnia and Herzegovina Sustainable Return Union has been keeping actual records, until the end of last year, more than 200,000 people have abandoned that country.

This data shows that in the past two years, approximately 50,000 persons emigrated from Bosnia and Herzegovina and headed abroad. Serbia is facing a similar demographic problem, if not a much more difficult one, which, according to the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), has seen around 654,000 people leave, most of them between the ages of 15 and 24, from the beginning of this century to the end of 2018. Eurostat figures also show that 51,000 people left Serbia to go to the EU in 2018.

The Croatian brain drain isn't something new, but it has become much worse despite the fact that the country has been facing the problem of population exodus for years, which is especially pronounced in its smaller communities, and it is particularly worrying that Croatia is struggling to retain its population even large cities. According to unofficial data, around 190,000 people have left Croatia in the last five years alone.

Examples are municipalities such as Civljan and Ervenik in the Šibenik-Knin County, which lost 39.3% or 37.8% of the population in five years, which means that every third inhabitant left the area in five years. A report by the Central Bureau of Statistics (CBS) also showed that 39,515 people emigrated from Croatia in 2018 alone, which is the second largest number after 2017, where a record 47,352 people emigrated.

The results of a World Bank report "Migration and brain drain in Europe and Central Asia" from last year showed that after Malta, the highest rate of emigration in the European Union is Croatia, with 21.9 percent of the population having left, which means that more than a fifth of its former population now lives abroad. According to Eurostat, around 62,000 people left Albania to go the the EU in 2018 alone. According to the latest World Bank report on migration, about 40 percent of the population has left that country so far.

A dramatic trend of emigration has been present in Northern Macedonia for years, from which, according to the latest Eurostat data, 24,300 people left in 2018 alone, while World Bank data shows that over 25 percent of the population, or a quarter of Macedonians, now reside outside of this non-EU Balkan country. According to the latest Eurostat data, 34,500 people emigrated from the territory of Kosovo in 2018 and about 3,000 from Montenegro, both of which are not EU member states.

If just Eurostat's 2018 data and other unofficial data is taken into account alone, it can be concluded that over the past few years, an average of 200,000 people, or even more than this number, have left the Balkan countries annually.

For more on the Croatian brain drain, keep up to date with our dedicated lifestyle page.

Sunday, 8 September 2019

Istrian War Veterans Saddened by Croatia's Demographic Crisis

As Glas Istre/Borka Petrovic writes on the 7th of September, 2019, Deputy Prefect of Istria County, Fabrizio Radin, and Deputy Mayor of Pula, Robert Cvek, recently hosted a reception for members of the 119th Croatian Army Brigade on the occasion of the 28th anniversary of its founding in Istria, Croatia.

Radin said the County and the City are actively participating in these anniversaries every year, and he pledged his support to continue. He said they were open to talks, not just about anniversaries, but about all other current affairs. He noted that as of next year, Istria County is taking over the affairs of the state administration, which involves issues related to the issues of war veterans (branitelji).

''If we've been closely linked so far in terms of cooperation, then by next year, we will surely be even more linked,'' Radin stated.

Mayor Cvek congratulated the 119th Brigade, saying that Istria must be and is proud of all that the brigade members accomplished in the defense of Croatia during the Homeland War, and especially that their war paths were honourable and free of any ''stains''.

The 119th Brigade's Roberto Fabris recalled that the brigade was founded on September the 7th, 1991, and that it covered the whole of Istria with four battalions - one in Umag, one in Pazin, and two in Pula. He recalled that a large number of JNA members were still stationed in Pula at the time and that the most important task was to try to preserve the peace.

The brigade made its way to Lika, was in Slavonia and even down south in the Ston area, and the highlight of their operation was certainly the military-police operation Storm (Oluja), Fabris said, recalling that seven members of the brigade were killed in war operations, and 82 were in some way wounded.

''Istria must be proud of its 119th Brigade, as well as all other units in the area. Our brigade is proud of everyone because it carried out all the tasks that were put before it without stains,'' Fabris said in an emotional speech, explaining that he could not hide his strong emotions because he had spent as many as 1,700 days in the brigade. He entered at the age of 25, and came out at the age of 30. He had left his entire young life on the battlefields, he said.

''Almost 90 percent of the members returned to their jobs and ordinary lives after the war, but we're proud of what we've achieved and will not let our journey be forgotten. The only thing that hurts me personally, and I believe hurts others, is that our children today are leaving the land we created. But I believe in a better future,'' Fabris concluded.

Make sure to follow our dedicated lifestyle page for much more.

Wednesday, 31 July 2019

Some Croatian Cities Have No Demographic Problems - Here's Why

As Novac/ writes on the 30th of July, 2019, the number of children born since 2009 on Croatian territory has been declining, and in those ten years, about seven and a half thousand babies less were born. The fewest births in that 10-year period occurred in 2017, when 36,556 babies were born, while last year that figure was ''fixed'' by a further 389 newborns.

36,945 babies were born last year, or 1.1 percent more than in 2017, and 52,706 people died last year, down 1.4 percent from one year before.

Considering the fact that the number of deaths on Croatian territory continuously exceeds the number of births, the natural increase remains negative. In the last ten years, 2017 and 2015 were the worst when judging by that indicator. Last year's natural increase rate was -3.9, meaning that 15,761 more people died than were born.

A positive natural increase was recorded in 58 Croatian cities and municipalities, 492 cities and municipalities had a negative result, including the City of Zagreb, and five of them had zero natural increase. Novac performed an analysis, city by city. Last year, there were more births than deaths in twelve Croatian cities, and more deaths than births in nine. Like last year, Solin, Metković, Kaštela and Dugo Selo had the most positive growth.

Last year, 278 babies were born in Solin, with a natural increase of 79 more births than deaths. The second largest city with the highest natural increase is in Split-Dalmatia County, in the coastal town of Kaštela, where 404 babies were born and 354 people died.

Metković followed with a natural increase of 47 new babies, Dugo Selo then followed with 37 new babies, Poreč with 27 new babies, Čakovec with 20, Sinj with 15, Novigrad Istarski with 5, and Orahovica and Vodnjan with four newborns. Vrgorac and Biograd na Moru had a positive increase with three, and two inhabitants. All other Croatian cities had a negative growth rate, ie, in one year, more people died than were born. From two counties, Istria and Split-Dalmatia, there are three cities with a positive natural increase.

All Croatian cities with a positive population growth are classified as medium and small cities, and they have a series of measures to retain their population and bring in new people in common. Newborn baby benefits are being raised, kindergartens are being built, housing incentives are being introduced, and entrepreneurship is being encouraged to create new jobs.

For several years now, Solin has been a record holder in Croatia in terms of natural population increase. This is certainly due to a number of measures introduced solely for children and young people.

“Solin is building two new kindergartens, with an investment value of 30,000,000 kuna. For the work of the Cvrčak (Cricket) kindergarten, which is majority owned by the City of Solin, 28,582,000 kuna will be allocated for 2019. In 2019, 2,404,000 kuna was earmarked for co-financing the work of private kindergartens (five kindergartens and one child care company). A total of 30,986,000 kuna has been planned for financing pre-school education in 2019, which is almost one third of the original budget,'' Solin's mayor Dalibor Ninčević told Novac.

He noted that Soline is also implementing various projects to help both children and their parents. Particularly noteworthy are the financial assistance measures for families with four or more children, which 95 families used in 2018, and financial support during maternity leave, which entails an additional monthly support of 700 kuna.

After Kaštela, where 15 more babies were born in 2018 than there were in 2017, and the natural increase stands at 50 inhabitants more, the next in line for positive population increase comes Metković, where 164 children were born last year, and the natural increase was 47 more live births than deaths.

Last year, the City of Metković secured the provision of textbooks for all students from the second to fourth grades who attend Metković's elementary schools, since Dubrovnik-Neretva County provided everything for those in the first grade.

“Last year, the price of kindergartens was reduced by 150 kuna, or 100 kuna, depending on the length of stay of the children. The financial allocation for newborn babies has also been increased: for the first child, it has risen from 1000 to 2500 kuna, for the second, it has risen from 1200 to 3500 kuna, for the third child, it has risen from 1400 to 4500, and for the fourth and every child after the fourth, the financial benefit has increased from 2000 to 5500 kuna.

Make sure to follow our dedicated lifestyle page for much more on Croatian demographics.

Tuesday, 23 July 2019

Dalmatians Saving Croatian Population: More Births On Coast

In only eleven Croatian cities and 47 municipalities out of a total of 566, were there more births than deaths, but most children were born in the coastal counties.

As Morski writes on the 23rd of July, 2019, Croatia's demographic picture continues to be bleak, and what might seem like a dying nation is being kept above water mainly by Dalmatians, which act as a bright spot on the demographic map of this country, where, as mentioned, out of a total of 566 Croatian cities and municipalities, only eleven cities and 47 municipalities were there more births than deaths last year.

In 2018, Split-Dalmatia County had the largest municipalities and cities with a positive natural population increase, included are four towns, Kaštela, Sinj, Solin, and Vrgorac, and ten municipalities, Baška Voda, Bol, Dugopolje, Klis, Podbablje, Podgora, Podstrana, Postira, Prolog, and Zadvarje, all of which had more births than deaths. This has been proven by the latest data from the Central Bureau of Statistics, Večernji list writes.

As stated, the Croatian cities and municipalities with a positive natural increase are mostly coastal counties, in Split-Dalmatia, Zadar, Istria, with one continental Croatian exception - Međimurje County.

52,706 people died in 2018 in Croatia, and 36,945 babies were born, in as many as 492 Croatian towns and municipalities and the City of Zagreb, there was a population decrease and only five municipalities and cities had the same number of births and deaths.

Although 389 more babies were born in 2018 than in 2017, that's merely a drop in the ocean, and a worrying one at that, when it is a well known fact that Croatia had more than 7,500 more births back in 2009 than today.

Demographer from Ivo Pilar Institute, prof. dr. Nenad Pokos, points out that the number of live births compared to deaths was recorded in only 58 Croatian municipalities and cities, or just 10.2 percent of their total number.

''Of the positive examples in the first place, it's certainly worth mentioning the town of Sinj, where there were 15 more people born last year than died, while in 2017, there were 42 more deaths than births.

In Sinj, the number of live births is larger than it was 2015, by as many as 34 births, and then compared again to 2016 where there 25 births, so in Sinj's case, we can rightly say that it is one of the few places to have recorded a baby boom.

In the Split area, the number of municipalities and towns with a natural increase is higher as Solin, Kaštela, Dugopolje, Klis and Podstrana are located here, while in Dugi Rat there is an equal number of live births and deaths.

The number of places with natural population growth in the Zadar region (Biograd, Bibinje, Galovac, Pakoštane, Poličnik and Tkon) is relatively high, while once again, Zadar has a natural decline as it also did last year, although during the period between 2011-2017, there were 355 more births than deaths.

In the Rijeka area, the record holder for natural population growth is still the Municipality of Viškovo, where the younger population has been coming and settling for the past few decades due to the possibility of easier employment in the immediate vicinity, as well as lower land prices and cheaper living costs than in Rijeka itself.

In Omišalj, there are more births than there are deaths, which is due to the proximity of Rijeka, the Rijeka suburbs, and Kostrena, stated Pokos.

More than births than deaths have also been recorded by ten towns and municipalities in Istria County, but they are very low numbers because only Poreč and the municipality of Tinjan have more births, more precisely five more, than deaths.

Follow our dedicated lifestyle page for much more.

Wednesday, 3 July 2019

Montenegro Terrified of ''Croatian Situation'' and Lack of Workers

There are several burning Croatian economic issues, shaped primarily by a lack of qualified workforce and an increasingly bleak demographic picture, is causing concern for its immediate neighbours, most of which aren't members of the EU and therefore don't adhere to one of the EU's four fundamental freedoms of access to the single market - the free movement of labour.

Despite not being EU members, countries like Montenegro are beginning to bite their nails in fear of Croatia's dire situation leaking over into their country.

As Poslovni Dnevnik writes on the 2nd of July, 2019, concerned employers warn that even Croatia's neighbour to the south, Montenegro, will not remain immune to the outflow of labour that is negatively affecting the countries of the region and is continuing to spread, and the consequences of such a problem, being dubbed the ''Croatian situation'', are already being felt in Montenegro, regardless of the fact that this Southeastern European country is nowhere near anything like European Union membership.

The Employers' Union of Montenegro have stated that they believe the worst is yet to come for their country, which will likely be harder hit than Croatia.

''It's currently difficult to assess the impact of emigration as well as the serious threat of the aging of our population on economic development, as we don't have any official data. At the Employers' Union of Montenegro (UPCG), we believe that the outflow of workers, if we continue on at this pace, will be devastating for the Montenegrin labour market, especially given the fact that Montenegro has been struggling for years with a lack of adequate workforce and is replacing it by employing foreign workers, mainly with workers from other countries of the region, which is now turning to the European market and Croatia as the closest EU member state,'' the employers' association warned.

Just a few years ago, Croatia only allowed a few thousand foreigners to be hired by Croatian companies, and there has been an increase in this number to 65,100 (non EU nationals) this year.

In addition to the introduction of this particular measure, Croatia has also adopted a model for Croatian seasonal workers which enables things like insurance to be ensured throughout the year, beyond the summer tourist season, in which the work of seasonal employees takes place. All this is done in attempt to make sure Croatia's economic growth doesn't slow down and as such reduce the competitiveness of the Croatian economy, nor deal yet another negative blow to Croatia's demographic movements on the state's resources, the aforementioned Montenegrin association states.

''With the additional announcement of the opening up of the labour markets of certain European countries, the shortage of workers will soon become a key issue for the Montenegrin economy - not only in the field of hospitality, tourism and construction, but also many other areas, such as in healthcare, where we've witnessed the significant outflow of those who work in healthcare, which is perhaps the most sensitive issue for all of us.

Looking at Croatia's unenviable situation from within close quarters, the Montenegrins in particular are finding this economic situation more than alarming, forcing them to take measures to make sure that their country is more attractive not only to potential foreign investors, but also to Montenegrin employees.

In order to try to avoid what is considered to be an ''inevitable'' Croatian situation, Montenegro is expected to respond in a timely manner to issues at the state level by adopting responsible strategic decisions, starting with the labour market, which needs further assessment, improving the conditions for maintaining existing jobs and opening up new jobs, a faster and more efficient administration, ensuring a more predictable and stable business environment and a stable tax system that would eventually lead to adequately paid and more job satisfaction.

Montenegro is obviously looking at Croatia's constantly worsening demographic trends, dire economic situation and the outflow of qualified workers as a burning issue, and is expecting all state institutions to get on their feet to try to tackle such a situation in their country, before it's too late.

Make sure to follow our dedicated lifestyle page for much more.

Sunday, 28 April 2019

More Than Third of Graduates with Diplomas in Croatia Unemployed

As Mirela Lilek/Novac writes on the 27th of April, 2019, Croatia's situation still isn't good: the country is continuing to ''produce'' graduates with the third lowest employment rate in the whole of the European Union, and as a result, taxpayers pay more and more money for them. According to new data from Brussels, based on a comparative survey of youth employment among Croats with diplomas earned in the last three years, a third of highly educated people aged between 20 to 34 in Croatia have no jobs. Only Italy and Greece are worse.

Of the 28 countries EU member states, Croatia ranked 26th with a 66 percent employability rate. Four positions above Croatia lies Romania, Bulgaria is six places above, and Slovakia is nine places above. Croatia's neighbour to the north, Slovenia, is eleven places above Croatia, Poland is thirteen places above (impressively right behind Ireland and Denmark), and the Czech Republic, with an 89.9 percent employability rate which has impressed the European Commission's experts - has risen to an enviable fourth place.

Malta is in first place in Europe as an employer of its graduates with diplomas, the employment rate of Maltese students stands at a very impressive 94.5 percent, even better than Germany, which boasts a rate of 90.9 percent, followed then by the Netherlands, the Czech Republic, and then Austria. The EU average is on the rise, back in 2014 it stood at 76 percent and in 2018 it stood at 80.2 percent. Unfortunately, the Croats have been close to the bottom for years, more specifically for fifteen years, as it has a below-average rate of employability in relation to the EU. Of course, rather than attempt to fix the problem directly, the Croats are doing what the Croats always do - continuing to debate and argue over who is (more) to blame for such embarrassing conditions.

Economists see the issue as being that the Croats aren't adapting easily to the market, and that Croatia also has an old education system. At Croatia's universities, they argue that the key issue isn't Croatia's higher education institutions, but an underdeveloped labour market, low personal income, and demotivating working conditions. Experts from the European Commission have given a relatively simple answer: Investing in education will benefit everyone in Europe.

Let's see how they explain their theories in some of the country's universities, starting with the largest "producers" of graduates in the entire country, the Faculty of Philosophy and Economics in Zagreb.

''We're aware of the importance of linking study programs and labour market needs. In this regard, the Faculty of Economics makes an effort to make it easier for students to access the labour market by establishing multilateral cooperation with companies and respectable institutions that enable students to perform high-quality professional practices,'' stated Sanja Sever Mališ, who deals with strategic partnerships and projects at the Faculty of Economics in Zagreb. The basic message from this particular Zagreb university is that "they connect students and employers so their best students can find work even during their studies." Therefore, there is no concern for them.

On the other hand, Vesna Vlahović-Štetić, Dean of the Faculty of Philosophy, admits that Croatia's humiliating placement at the bottom of the employability scale of graduates is still something to be very concerned about and therefore the causes of that need to be looked at.

''I assume that part of the problem lies in insufficient development and the ability of the economy and the public sector to absorb newly graduated students. On the other hand, the question is how many colleges and higher education institutions meet the needs of society with their respective programs. At the state level, in some professions there's hyper-production, and in others there is a lack of experts. Additionally, study programs should be regularly updated and developed to meet not only society's needs but also predict what competences professionals will need in the future,'' the dean says.

Data obtained through the HKO project of the Faculty of Philosophy shows that the employability of their students in the year after graduation is 75 percent. They believe this is the result of "the excellent professional and generic competences of their graduates".

"We're convinced at the Faculty of Philosophy that the study programs need to be further improved, so we have just started the study reform process and I'm sure the future employability of our students will be even better," says the university's dean.

The rector of the University of Rijeka, Snježana Prijić Samaržija, doesn't want to run away from the fact that Croatia's universities do hold a share of the responsibility for this issue but, again, she's convinced that Croatia's higher education institutions are't the key cause of the problem, but the underdeveloped labour market definitely is.

Rijeka University has eleven faculties and four departments. On their official page, they point out that they are a modern European university and a centre of excellence within the region and beyond, and that they are responsible for the social and economic development of the community. Samardžija claims that she doesn't want to relate the worrying data on the high rate of unemployed with higher education, but that "it should be borne in mind that higher education is a better job-finding guarantee, such as landing a permanent position,"

"Of course, it's possible to say that the employment rate would be higher if universities, by some automation, increased their quotas for the job-type deficit and reduced those profiles for which the employment bureaus take care of. In that sense, people often say Croatia's institutions and their enrollment policies aren't adapted to the labour market. However, the situation isn't quite that simple.

For example, the market seeks shipbuilding engineers, we have shipbuilding studies and a corresponding quota at the University of Rijeka, but there's a fall in interest for those studies. We can understand the students' fears about the situation with Croatia's shipyards, but the fact is that the need for this profession is still growing. Similarly, despite the lack of mathematics and physics teachers and the excellent studies we have, the interest doesn't match the employment opportunities,'' she explained.

The University of Rijeka decided to put seven studies ''into retirement'' this year, and isn't accepting students for them. Those are acting and media, dental hygiene, computer science in combination with professional studies of medical-lab diagnostics, mechanical engineering, shipbuilding, and electrical engineering.

On the other hand, there's a considerable level of interest in studies that don't guarantee quick and permanent employment at all, such as the arts, cultural studies, and psychology.

''Young people choose studies according to their personal interests, not just employment opportunities. They don't necessarily just want a permanent job, many of them are accustomed to gaining work experience in different institutions, at different places of work, and in different countries. More and more, they prefer to individually define the curriculum through courses and practical competences beyond their study program(s), which will make their expertise comparatively more special and desirable. In the midst of a sluggish and non-ethnological labour market, more and more students enjoy prolonged youthful relationships with their parents or rent apartments,'' says Snježana Prijić Samaržija.

"I don't want to run away from the responsibility of the university, we're constantly thinking about the jobs of the future, we're working on increasing the quota for the deficit professions and improving our students' competences to reduce the unemployment rate. However, time is needed to see the results of these measures because the higher education cycle lasts for at least five years. It should be understood that universities can't just simply increase quotas for occupations for which there's a labour market need because new employment is frozen,'' noted the Rector of the University of Rijeka.

As Croatia's paradoxical situation of having no work but plenty of jobseekers, yet plenty of work and no staff, it's hard to predict the outcome of education system reforms as the market and its needs can alter so rapidly. Will Croatian students simply continue to trickle away on the stream of a proverbial leaking tap out into Western Europe, leaving Croatia with the rather unenviable title of a country that educates its citizens for work abroad? It's likely such a scenario will continue at least for the foreseeable future. Whether or not Croatia will manage to make the necessary alterations to fix that aforementioned ''leaky tap'' in time remains to be seen.

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Click here for the original article by Mirela Lilek for Novac/Jutarnji