Center “Strong Youngsters” is the best practice example for Career Guidance in Republic of Serbia

SOS Children’s Village Serbia won the first prize at the Second National Euroguidance Competition of Good Practices in the Field of Career Guidance and Counseling, for the Carrier Center “Strong Youngsters”, that is opened within Project “Strong Youngsters – Social inclusion and economic sustainability of youths at risk”, implemented by SOS Children’s Villages Serbia in cooperation with HGFD and local partners and supported by German Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development.

National Euroguidance competition was organized, by Tempus Foundation, with aim to promote organizations, institutions and individuals which developed and implemented good, innovative and sustainable practices in the field of career development. This year Center “Strong Youngsters” was chosen for the first award, between 20 competitors.

Foundation Tempus in Serbia is organization that provides a framework for the activities of the National Tempus Office, a national focal point for this EU program of modernization of higher education. The existence and work of the Foundation Tempus is associated with the participation of the Republic of Serbia in EU programs for cooperation in the field of education from the year 2000 onwards.

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For less than a year, Carrier Center “Strong Youngsters” became recognizable as a place of support for youngsters who grew up without parental care, care leavers and other youngsters at risk. Importance and quality of Center’s work was also identified and valued on Competition of Tempus Foundation, where the Center won the first prize.
“I’ve always wanted to be a cook. Thanks to the Center “Strong Youngsters”, my dream became true. When I came in Center, we talked about my wishes and my needs. After that, I finished vocational training for cooking and started internship in restaurant. I was the best intern and I got a job! I’ve been working there for a six months”, said Daria, one of young people who get support in our Centre, in order to start independent life.
Daria is very happy while she is talking about her experience. For the first time in her life she has a chance to do what she really wants. And that has really big importance for someone who grew up in poor Roma family, taking care about sick sister and waiting in a line to fulfill her own needs and wishes.
Her change is really big and obvious. She is totally different person than girl who came in the Center ten months ago and suspiciously started to participate in our activities. As time went by she overcame her suspicious. She persistently participated in educations and activities, finished vocational training that she wanted, dealt with discrimination and gained self-confidence. Now she has work that has always wanted and she is very dedicated to it, because she wants to make progress, get promotion and to be very successful. Her colleagues and bosses have only good words for her. She is always smiling and proud on herself, because now she could also help her family and bring some brightness and optimism in their life.

wilo foundation
One of the main goals of the Carrier Center “Strong Youngsters” is to improve employability of youths who grew up without parental care, care leavers, young people from SOS CV Serbia Family Strengthening Programs, youths from Roma population and from other vulnerable groups. Other important goals are: establishing and licensing of new, unique pilot service, promotion of self-employment and the promotion of youth activism, as well as capacity building for experts from local institutions.
“Our main goal is to provide sustainable improvement of the situation of socio-economic disadvantaged youths in Belgrade. We are very proud that our efforts are recognized and this award give us motivation to achieve even better results. By the end of 2018 we will provide support for minimum 300 youths through trainings, educations, capacity building, internship and mentoring programs, employment and micro – business tools”, said Aleksandra Grubin, Project Manager of Project “Strong Youngsters”.
One of youths who are getting support in Center is, also, Irfan . We met him when pedagogue from state home in which he lives brought him to promotion of the Center services. His life story is, also, very hard, because he grew up in a small mountain village, far away from civilization, with three brothers and father who abused them. He didn’t even go to school. When he came to state home, he was teenager, but he didn’t know how to read and write. He was very closed and destructive for a long time, but thanks to patience, dedication and empathy of our team members who worked with him, he became open and interested in activities in the Center. He made friendships and started to participate in workshops and activities with his friends. Now he is attending course for mechanic. “That is good for me”, he said. His self-confidence and efforts to do something really good for him are stronger and better from day to day. And he learned how to smile again.

centar jaki mladi
“We are very happy to make positive change in life of young people who need support and help on their way to independent life. This award is confirmation that we do something really good and we are going to give our best in order to provide better future for our young people”, said Jelena Trajkovski, Youth Employment and Entrepreneurship Advisor.
There are lots of stories about positive changes of youngsters participating in the Carrier Centre activities which are result of our helping them to get stronger. We have provided services for 130 young people by now and 43% of them are girls. 34 youngsters gained experience of job interview with Employers, 12 finished vocational trainings and got new vocation, 11 is attending vocational trainings at this moment, 6 is included in internship programs, 5 finished their internship, 5 is in process of developing idea for their own business, 9 are developing ideas for income generating fund and 30 are employed.
Support for young people is provided by 5 team members: Project Manager, Youth Employment and Entrepreneurship Advisor, two Youth Empowering Advisor and Financial Assistant.
Main partners on the three years Project are: National Alliance for Economic Development (NALED), Belgrade Center for Social Work, Center for Foster Care and Adoption Belgrade, Belgrade City Center for Social Entrepreneurship, Serbian Chamber of Commerce, Center for Protection of Infants, Children and Youth and National Employment Service.