PRIZREN, Kosovo (Reuters) – Dashurie Cahanaj kneads a mound of dough in a vocational school in Prizren, Kosovo, studying for a baking qualification she hopes will give here a quicker ticket out of her country than her hard-won nursing degree.
The 23-year-old, like a growing number of her contemporaries, is desperate to leave to get a job in more affluent parts of Europe, lured by better wages and wider opportunities.
She could start filling out the paperwork and visa forms to transfer her medical skills. But competition for such work is fierce and time is pressing.
“From here it will take years until I will get a working visa for a job as a nurse in Germany,” she told Reuters. Instead she has already made contacts at bakeries in Slovenia who are ready to take on lower-skilled staff right away.
Once based in the European Union, she will be in a stronger position. “I found out that getting a job in a bakery in Slovenia and then applying to work as a nurse in Germany is much faster for me.”
With gross domestic product per capita of $4,300 and one third of the working population unemployed, Kosovo ranks among poorest corners of Europe.
As many as 78% of Kosovars aged between 18 and 35 said they would move abroad if given an opportunity, in an International Republican Institute survey in late November.
A total of 203,330 Kosovar citizens left the country between 2008 and 2018 and applied for asylum in the European Union, according to a study published by the European Policy Institute of Kosovo – raising fears of a looming labour shortage in the country.
The Professional Training Centre in Prizren is one of six vocational schools in Kosovo offering young people short courses in everything from baking and make-up to welding and electrical work.
The centre’s general manager, Sinan Gashi, said the number of students had doubled since 2015.
“There is no future for youth (here),” said Rilind Babatinca, a trained economist from the town of Podujevo in his twenties.
He said he had already started making plans to set his own qualifications aside and apply for a visa to work in a fast food restaurant in Germany.
(Reporting by Fatos Bytyci; Editing by Ivana Sekularac and Andrew Heavens)