Adapting to a Vocational Labor Shortage in North Macedonia
This case study tells the story of how USAID’s Business Ecosystem Project (BEP), a 4-year project designed to strengthen North Macedonia’s economy, has adapted its original scope to address an issue that arose as critically important during implementation: the vocational labor shortage in North Macedonia. BEP has three objectives: 1) Improving business services for micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs), 2) Improving access to finance for MSMEs, and 3) Increasing private sector investment into local economic development. However, during its first year, BEP realized that the growing vocational labor shortage was threatening to undercut the Project’s ability to achieve its objectives. BEP shifted some of its focus towards workforce development to address this critical issue and continue achieving its objectives. In line with the CLA framework, BEP collaborated with local organizations in designing initiatives that would produce more workers with in-demand vocational skills. Though only in its second year, BEP has already made two significant steps towards that goal: 1) Increased support for the development of “Training for Employment” initiatives by business service organizations 2) Leading a multi-stakeholder effort to coordinate workforce development activities and promote vocational careers and educations. The close working relationship with private sector stakeholders also serves as bridge with other donor-funded projects and government institutions. Thanks to the CLA framework, BEP's approach was informed by data gathered from all relevant stakeholders and alliances that strengthen the sustainability of the Project interventions, paving the way for North Macedonia’s journey to self-reliance.