20/04/2022 – High-quality education, social cohesion and a green recovery were identified as the most important dimensions to create new opportunities and improve the quality of life of people in North Macedonia, according to the second edition of the Multi-dimensional Review (MDR) of the Western Balkans presented today in Skopje.
North Macedonia is at an important crossroads in their development trajectory. Significant progress has been made in ensuring full participation in basic compulsory schooling and in introducing common core curricula to make learning more competency-oriented. With income per capita almost doubling – from USD 2 900 in 1995 to USD 5 100 in 2020 in constant terms, extreme poverty was reduced and living standards increased. To improve environmental sustainability, North Macedonia has already established a significant legislative foundation for the low-carbon transition, is well advanced in the process of submitting its National Energy and Climate Plan, and submitted an ambitious enhanced Nationally Determined Contribution.
However, entrenched social and environmental challenges in the country remain pressing. Secondary and tertiary education enrolment rates remain low. Performance in the OECD Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) is also low in terms of test scores, and large local differences persist in education outcomes. Employment rates continue to be below the OECD averages and many unemployed persons stay unemployed for long periods, leading to further loss of skills and creating great pressure on the social protection system. A high carbon-intensity in combination with low levels of energy efficiency results in considerable air pollution and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in North Macedonia.
The Multi-Dimensional Review of the Western Balkans propose priorities for enhancing the development prospects of North Macedonia.
Building key competencies of student and adults is a key to create opportunities for citizens. North Macedonia needs to enhance vocational education and training (VET) excellence through the creation of major regional VET centres providing students with better access to technical equipment. This requires broad support and collaboration, especially from municipalities and the private sector to create linkages with the private sector. To further boost the size and quality of the workforce, it is important to scale up initiatives that target disadvantaged students, minorities and students from rural areas at all levels of education.
To foster social cohesion, growth-enhancing policies need to be complemented by solid active labour market policies that boost participation of many unemployed and vulnerable citizens. In parallel, North Macedonia should continue to build on recent social protection reforms, such as the introduction of guaranteed minimum assistance, and address the remaining gaps in the adequacy and coverage. A shift towards community-integrated social services, provided locally, can create pathways by which people in need integrate into society and the labour market.
Finally, cleaner air and more access to sustainable energy is key for improving the quality of life in North Macedonia and to make it and an attractive place to live, work and invest in. The OECD Development Centre report considers how North Macedonia can follow through on its climate- and environment-related legislation and strategic documents, which has historically been a challenge. To strengthen investment in renewable energies, North Macedonia needs to increase the use of market based support mechanisms, eliminate remaining coal subsidies and increase excise taxes on fuels.
The Multi-dimensional Review (MDR) of the Western Balkans combines the assessments of five economies: Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, North Macedonia and Serbia.
For more information, journalists are invited to contact the OECD Development Centre’s Press office: Bochra Kriout ([email protected] ; Tel.: +33 145 24 82 96).