Ambassador Delawie’s Remarks at the Inauguration of Agro Job Career Center, March 24, 2016

Mirëmëngjes.  Dobro jutro.  Good morning.

Dean of Students Kaçiu, Ambassador Martusz, Mr. Kosumi , faculty, students, honored guests.  It is always an honor to speak to students and members of academia, who are working to develop the future of Kosovo.

My daughter is currently at university, and my son will start this year.  Like students here in Kosovo, they are thinking about what they will do after their studies – about their career choices and how they will make a difference, and how they help make the world a better place.

Yet, we all know that here in Kosovo, the chronically high level of unemployment is a major constraint to young people seeking to apply their skills and realize their dreams.  Creating jobs is a prerequisite for economic development.  And economic development is one of my top priorities during my time in Kosovo.

That is why the U.S. Government, through USAID, is working closely with the private sector, government institutions, and academia to bolster private sector-led economic growth.  Our goal is to help create the economic opportunities that all Kosovo’s citizens need and deserve.

The career center being launched today is a great and innovative example of how to achieve this goal.  The center will build a critical bridge between the knowledge acquired here at the Faculty of Agriculture and the specific skills sought by employers in the agriculture sector.

We hope that the Center will facilitate job placement for graduates.  It will help ensure that the academic instruction of the Faculty of Agriculture is more aligned with the needs of the sector.  Ultimately, it will bring industry, academia, and graduates closer together in a shared vision for the agriculture sector.

Why is this important?  Agriculture is a vital part of Kosovo’s economy.  It contributes significantly to Gross Domestic Product and employment.  The sector is literally growing – sales of Kosovo’s products are increasing both in the domestic and export markets.  The United States is proud to do our own small part to help.  USAID agriculture activities have led to the employment of 7,000 people in the agriculture sector in the last four years.

Because of the importance of this sector to Kosovo’s economy, I’ve been involved in working in that since my first full day in Kosovo, when immediately upon presenting my credentials to the President of the Republic of Kosovo, I walked through down the Mother Theresa Boulevard to talk with farmers and others who were working with the USAID on a raspberry cultivation project.

The raspberry project is a great example how a very modest of help and technical expertise can help unlock the entrepreneurial spirit that exists in Kosovo in creating jobs and a brand new export sector.

The growth of the agriculture sector that we’ve seen means new requirements and new opportunities for employment in the sector.  Employers are hiring, but they need employees with the appropriate skills and relevant knowledge for their jobs.

That’s where this center and the work of the Faculty of Agriculture can play an important role.  Year after year, we are seeing a resurgence of interest in agriculture as a career among Kosovo’s youth.  This trend is reflected in the dramatic increase in admissions to the Faculty of Agriculture.

Gone are the days when a firm only needed to employ family members. Agriculture firms in Kosovo are actively seeking graduates with critical knowledge and the ability to think creatively.  Companies need these skills to position their firms more competitively in the global economy.

As businesses grow in Kosovo, it is critical to understand the importance of human capital.  That’s a complicated way to say that people matter.  I believe that every US government contribution made in the sector of job creation is vital to growing Kosovo’s economy.

Once again, congratulation to the Faculty of Agriculture for this career center.  We commend the agriculture graduates who stand behind this innovation.  I wish you success as you find your place in the agribusiness community.  I would also like to thank very much the Government of Hungary, who has provided higher education opportunities in the field of agriculture.  Together, we are a strong team.

Faleminderit.  Hvala.  Thank you very much!