Having completed higher education in Albania does not mean you are necessarily privileged to find a job. On the contrary, the number of unemployed professional graduates increased in 2018, though officially the unemployment rate fell sharply that year. According to data from the Albanian Institute of Statistics (INSTAT), the unemployment rate for those who completed higher education was 14.2 percent in 2018, from 13.8 percent the previous year. Unemployment has increased in graduate women from 13.9 percent to 15.8 percent, while it has fallen in men from 13.7 percent to 12.1 percent.
There are many unemployed graduates trying to open their private ventures by increasing the share of self-employment in this group. The trend of rising unemployment among higher education graduates has been in the opposite direction to the total unemployment rate in the country, down from 14.1 percent in 2017 to 12.8 percent in 2018.
But 2018 seems to have been a good year for those with middle-school education. The unemployment rate for this group fell from 12.9 percent to 10.6 percent. There has also been a decline in unemployment among the working-age population who have graduated from high school, from 15.7 percent (in 2017) to 14.5 percent. In fact, the middle-school educated population turns out to be bolder in opening up a private activity, mainly in retail or in bar-restaurants.
Other INSTAT data indicate that 43 percent of employees with middle-school education are self-employed. This weight, which is much higher than those with higher education, as only 13.5 percent of them have chosen to open a private activity, where men predominate over women. However, it seems that the inability to find a job has driven those with a university degree to turn their eyes on self-employment, which has grown by nearly 2 percentage points in 2018. This tendency has been evident in both sexes.
This trend is confirmed by INSTAT data on the types of businesses according to which professional services are the ones being opened more in the last few years, while commercial entities and bar-cafés are closing down. Businesses that have recorded the highest increase in absolute value in 2019 are those in “Enterprise Management and Consulting Activities.” 186 new subjects of this category were opened in 2018, reaching a total of 793. Although their total number is low in relation to the traditional trade entrepreneurship of Albanians (where there are a total of 35 thousand entities), the business of chiefs and consultants has reached a record in 2018, as far as new market entry is concerned, with their number quadrupling compared to 2013.
The trend of selecting a major in recent years turned out to have not been in line with labor market requirements, causing thousands of graduates to remain unemployed or get hired to activities irrelevant with their education. INSTAT data shows that the labor market is being filled with law and economics graduates, who are the two most preferred majors. Of the 139 thousand students enrolled in the 2018/2019 academic year, about 24 percent of them are in the field of “Business, Administration and Law,” 15 percent pursue “Healthcare and Wellbeing,” and the third is “Engineering, Production and construction” with 14 percent of the total number of registered students.