About the ILO in Bosnia and Herzegovina

One of the most challenging labour markets in the region

While the economy recovered faster than expected from the Covid-19 pandemic, the much-needed recovery of labour markets is lagging. The country continues to show one of the most challenging labour market situations in the region with several unsolved structural challenges from before the pandemic and the current energy crisis caused by the Russian invasion in Ukraine.

Employment rates remain low (40 per cent for age 15-64, 2022). Unemployment is high (15 per cent in 2022), despite a downward trend in recent years especially affecting youth aged 15-24 (35 per cent in 2022). The share of youth not in employment, education, or training (NEET) is also high (19 per cent, ILO 2021). The country has one of the lowest female employment rates in the Balkans (37 per cent 2022). The share of informal employment in total employment is relatively high (14 per cent, ILO 2020). Low employment levels and the outward migration coupled with a rapidly aging population put a strain on the social security systems, challenging their sustainability over the long-term.

Because of the political divisions in the country and a rather fragmented government structure the public administration has difficulties in coming up with solid diagnostics and long-term reforms of education, labour markets and social policies. For the same reasons, the administration cannot guarantee sufficient outreach and coverage of related services like employment services or active labour market programmes.

ILO interventions in BiH

Bosnia and Herzegovina has been a member state of the ILO since 1993. The country has ratified 83 ILO International Labour Standards (Conventions), including all ten fundamental conventions. Starting 1996, the ILO has been providing technical assistance in a wide range of areas including employment creation, labour law reform, promotion of social dialogue and collective bargaining, and tackling undeclared work.

The current ILO projects support
  • local employment partnerships (tailor made interventions agreed upon by labour market actors to come up with local solutions to specific employment challenges of a municipality or district),
  • entrepreneurship in export-oriented and innovative sectors, for results also see here
  • public employment services in reaching out to vulnerable groups like long term unemployed, persons with disabilities, ethnic minorities, for the most recent initiative see here 
  • labour inspectorates and mediation of labour disputes,
  • fact based information on labour migration in the EU and the Western Balkans, for details see here
Text last updated May 2023