How to Not Solve Youth Unemployment in Albania

Imagine 100 workers need to get to a distant island every day where their jobs are but there is only one ferry that makes one round trip per day that can hold 80 people at most. The local government soon realizes this is a problem and they get their best minds together to come up with a solution. They come up with the following solutions:

  1. Teach ferry commuters to stretch and run in their spare time so they can beat other people to the dock in the morning by outrunning them.
  2. Host a ferry commuter fair where boat commuters can share advice on how to get a spot on the ferry.

After applying for grants and implementing these solutions, the local government employees take plenty of photos for facebook to show how successful they’ve been solving the problem. In the end, the ferry still has 80 seats for the 100 people who need them.

So how is this like the unemployment problem in Albania?

Official numbers put national unemployment at 13.25% for Albania and 66% of those have been unemployed for over a year. Youth unemployment (ages 15-24) is at about 35% (41% men, 27% women). What activities have I seen to address the youth unemployment problem in Albania?

  1. US Embassy hosted a job fair for college students.
  2. UN representative that came to my little town suggested youth work unpaid internships.

How is this like the ferry problem? Because there simply aren’t enough jobs in Albania like there simply aren’t enough seats on the ferry.

Now imagine that half of the seats on the ferry are allotted for political reasons and the other half allotted according to nepotism. Imagine how foolish those proposed solutions are to solving our ferry problem.


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