The European Commission has paid out € 13 million to Albania rewarding the performance and progress so far in the implementation of the employment and skills reform (€ 6 million) and the public administration reform (€ 7 million). Improvement in employment policies and practices is crucial for Albania's sustainable and inclusive development. In respect of public administration enhanced transparency, accountability and effectiveness of the public sector is essential for better service delivery to citizens and businesses, for delivering on structural reforms and for implementation of EU acquis and its best practices. These reforms are supported by a total of € 30 million for the employment and skills strategy implementation and € 32 million for the public administration reform. The overall financial support under the EU national programme to Albania for 2014 -2020 is at the size of €650 million in grants money.
Investing in people and their education in a way which is relevant and competitive for the current job market is the best investment that can be made for the future of Albania. Better and more efficient employment programmes help bridging the gap between the labour market needs and the competencies of the Albanian jobseekers and facilitate the creation of job opportunities, especially for the youth and vulnerable or marginalised groups. A stronger quality of vocational education system supports the shaping of a more dynamic and competent labour force, allowing the country to become more competitive in the national and international arena.
Albania has made steady and tangible progress in the implementation of the national Employment and Skills strategy 2014 - 2020 with a positive impact on the youth and women employment. This has been achieved through the strengthening of the legal framework, the diversification of job opportunities, investments in the quality of vocation and educational training services and the increase of labour market services.
The implementation of the Public Administration Reform Strategy 2015-2020 has also progressed and remains a key priority for the accession agenda. Improvements in the recruitment process for a professional, merit-based and depoliticised civil service through standardised procedures and increased transparency have started but need to continue to improve the image and accessibility of public sector as an employer of young, qualified, competent and motivated staff with integrity able to provide quality services to citizens and businesses in a transparent, effective, and efficient way.
The operation of a public consultation portal made the policy making process more open to citizens. Strengthening of the legal framework has standardised administrative procedures and together with continued automatization of services, the use of modern technologies has enhanced accountability and service delivery to the public.
The European Commission encourages the Government of Albania to pursue its efforts in the continued implementation of the employment and skills and public administration reforms, paving the way to an inclusive and effective labour-market, competitive labour force, professional and citizen- centric public administration in Albania. Further release of funds by the European Commission to these reforms is subject to satisfactory progress for which the next assessment is due in spring 2017.
For citizens, research institutes and all the non-state actors it is in their best interest to engage more intensively to participate in the public life for the creation of a more knowledgeable society and a more accountable public administration.