Digital Work and Empowerment component will support the Youth Online and Upward (YOU) Program and increased access to knowledge, information and online services.

Youth Online and Upward (YOU) Program

Youth Online and Upward (YOU) Program subcomponent will finance provision of training for young people and their connection to online working opportunities. The activities will primarily cater to unemployed or underemployed young men and women with at least some knowledge of English and at least high school education to increase their ability to compete in relevant segments of online work using computers and smart phones. The Program will skill beneficiaries to work online, including to perform basic IT and IT‐enabled services as online freelancers. It will build on the successes and lessons learnt from the Women in Online Work (WoW) pilots of the MED, financed by the World Bank and other donors. It is planned to skill up to 2,000 beneficiaries (which is about 10x of the number covered in the two phases of the WoW pilots and about 1/3 of total employment in the ICT sector in Kosovo), although economies of scale may eventually enable more participants to benefit from the program. It is expected that through this training the beneficiaries will increase their employability also in the local ICT market.

National Research Network

This subcomponent will finance: (a) Provision of support to (i) set up a National Research and Education Network (NREN) to improve access of students, researches and educators of HEIs in Kosovo to knowledge, research networks and (ii) connect NREN to the GÉANT network and (b) Provision of support to increase use of online labor market information and services to improve information flows about work opportunities, through targeted awareness raising and information sharing activities in underserved or unconnected areas identified in Subcomponent 1.1 of the Project. A second stream of activities will aim to increase the use of online services that improve access to financial services, information and services related to the labor market, seeking to improve local information flows about work opportunities (e.g. countering the perception among men that are inactive in the labor market that “no work is available”, or increasing information about family care options among women). Through these activities the Project will pursue a customized approach with an aim to reach more women, which will result in more female beneficiaries, thus contributing to addressing the existing gender gap in labor market participation and, consequently, in employment. The feedback received at the information sessions will be channeled to the PIU for follow‐up actions and as part of the monitoring and evaluation (M&E) framework.

 Digital Awareness Program of Households

The activities are expected to address the gaps and asymmetries in the access to information, knowledge, services, and income generation and employment opportunities through a digital awareness program for households. In other words, this Subcomponent will convert the connections financed out of Subcomponent 1.1 into economic opportunities through better access to labor markets and knowledge.