The bilateral agreement establishes a common labour market between the two countries.
By Erl Murati for Southeast European Times in Tirana -- 27/02/14
Erion Veliaj, Albania minister of youth and social welfare (left) and Nenad Rasic, Kosovo minister of labour and social welfare, sign a memorandum of co-operation in Tirana. [Albania Ministry of Youth and Social Welfare]
Kosovo and Albania are simplifying the employment-seeking process and establishing a common job market.
The two countries signed a memorandum of co-operation in Tirana that calls for creating an internet employment portal to list all vacancies in Albania and Kosovo, and three joint professional training centres for the jobless.
"If one looks for a job, say, as a plumber, he now has the chance to check for the available opportunities in both countries, Erion Veliaj, minister of youth and social welfare of Albania, told SETimes.
Kosovo and Albania have long been affected by high unemployment -- 30 percent and 14 percent, respectively.
The EU 2013 progress report on Albania said the long-term unemployment is structural and accounts for two thirds of total job seekers.
"Labour market statistics continue to be weak and are distorted by a large informal sector," it said.
Many employment offices in Albania are located in suburban areas, which makes it hard for young people to find jobs, said Luan Bregasi, president of Biznes Albania, a Tirana-based association that brings together Albanian businessmen.
"That is why I consider the creation of a portal to formalise and increase the chances for job-related information between Albania and Kosovo a very positive development," Bregasi told SETimes.
Nearly 150,000 people registered at the employment offices across Albania last year.
"Job seekers from both countries will also have more training opportunities as well," said Nenad Rasic, labour and social welfare minister of Kosovo.
Vesel Marku, 50, a resident of Kukes in Albania, said he chose to commute 29 kilometres to Prizren in Kosovo, where he opened a clothing shop.
Marku said lower taxes and physical proximity have encouraged at least 30 Kukes traders to work in Prizren.
"There are commuting costs but still we are profitable. When my sons grow up, I will prefer to send them to work in Prizren rather than to Tirana," Marku told SETimes.
All opportunities should be made available to the jobless in both countries, including seasonal jobs, said Kol Nikollaj, president of the Confederation of Trade Unions of Albania.
"During the summer season, tourists from Montenegro and Macedonia vacation in Albania. Kosovo youngsters can be engaged in this market because they speak regional languages and can easily communicate with the foreign tourists. We all want to be members of the EU. But to be part of the EU, we need integrate the region," Nikollaj told SETimes.
Veliaj said Kosovo and Albania want to invite other regional countries to join them.
"Obstacles should not stand in the way to get employment permits in the region. This idea is expected to include Macedonia or Montenegro. But I am happy that Albania and Kosovo are the first to start this type of regional co-operation," Veliaj said.
What else can Kosovo and Albania do to reduce high unemployment? Share your opinion in the comments section.