The production of high-quality and globally competitive steel structures requires staff education and constant monitoring of new technologies

Mostar, Bosnia and Herzegovina, July 2020

As part of the USAID Workforce and Higher Access to Markets (WHAM) Activity, a grant was signed with SIK d.o.o. Mostar with the aim of aligning production with modern technologies.

In today’s global economy, it is critical for export-oriented metal processing companies in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) to operate on the forefront of welding technologies, which requires a highly skilled workforce. SIK d.o.o Mostar specializes in metal production for the auto, shipping, and food industries. As export market interest has grown, the company found they did not have sufficient material or human capital to meet increasing demand. Through its grant program, the USAID WHAM Activity recognized a significant opportunity to not only support a growing small and medium enterprise (SME), but also to directly support training that provides members of the Bosnian workforce with marketable skills for current and future employment. The WHAM team helped SIK d.o.o Mostar design a program to meet these needs.

The WHAM grant supported SIK d.o.o. Mostar with production development, the promotion of new products, and employee training. These grant-funded activities have resulted in increased production, expanded exports, and the hiring of 20 new workers. For many new employees, this is their first permanent job. The opportunity for education and retraining provided by the USAID WHAM Activity in cooperation with SIK d.o.o Mostar has significantly improved the quality of life for new employees.

Sabahudin Balavac is one of the new employees at SIK d.o.o Mostar: “I am a trained mechanical technician. The knowledge we acquire during our public education is not what potential employers need and therefore it is not easy to get a job. The training provided at SIK d.o.o Mostar with the support of the USAID WHAM Activity was my chance for a first job and a big step towards my future progress. As a permanent employee of SIK d.o.o Mostar, many aspects of my life have changed. My family of six can now rely on my income. I can think about my personal and professional development. The possibilities are numerous.”

Thanks to the support of the USAID WHAM Activity, Arman Bubalo got his first full-time job: “I have been registered with the unemployment office for years as an economic technician. It was clear that as an economic technician I would never get a job. I am grateful for the opportunity given to me through the support of the USAID WHAM Activity to retrain as a welder. Through teamwork with senior welders and coworkers in the profession at SIK, I was able to gain knowledge. I am trained, motivated, and ready for further advancement in my new career as a welder. Permanent employment has immeasurably improved the lives of my three-member family. My family’s financial situation has greatly improved. The security that permanent employment brings is even more important.”

The USAID’s Workforce and Higher Access to Markets Activity (USAID WHAM) is a five-year program that began in June 2017. USAID WHAM aims to stimulate job creation by advancing BiH trade integration with and expansion into the European Union and regional markets. The focus and priority of this Activity are high-growth, exporting, and export-ready companies from the metal, wood, textile/leather, and ICT sectors. The activity is being implemented by the International Executive Service Corps (IESC), in cooperation with its local partner ENOVA.