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Tijana Tadić, HR Director, Karanović & Nikolić Law Firm

Education Compatible with Labour Market Needs

In the course of economic reforms, it is vital to make the education system compatible with labour market needs and eliminate unreported employment by having the minimum wage as a non-taxable base for taxes and contributions, which would result in many unreported workers re-entering the employment system

Ample experience and excellent results achieved in large-scale, complex business systems have led to Tijana Tadić’s being appointed HR director in one of the most reputable law firms in the region – Karanović & Nikolić.

How do you, as an experienced HR manager with excellent references, view HR trends in Serbia? Tell us the good and the bad news from the HR market.

For a long time, HR played mainly an administrative role without much affecting strategies and decision-making in companies. The good news is that, in the last few years, a generation of young experts with sound business knowledge has emerged who are slowly but surely changing ingrained beliefs.

Unfortunately, HR professionals still invest very little in their knowledge and professional development and are hesitant to leave their comfort zones, comprised of routine, administrative tasks. I do not see enough of innovative practices, and what often happens is that international standards are implemented without much thought given as to how they will fit into our culture and system.

We, at Karanović & Nikolić, have been fortunate enough to have an excellent cooperation with the Faculty of Law the management of which is attuned to the needs of the business segment while recognizing contemporary trends in higher learning

What is the biggest difference in the HR approach in the public and private sectors in Serbia?

My experience with the public sector is fairly limited, with the exception of a couple of large systems with which I cooperated and where the HR approach was structured, systemic and strategic. They do invest in the development of their employees and are trying to follow the latest HR trends. The private sector has much greater flexibility in decision-making and a lot of freedom in creating merit-based award systems while allowing HR managers to really change things.

A lot has been said about the incompatibility of the education system and business segment in Serbia. What is your view of this problem from the standpoint of an HR director in a company that has high HR standards?

Our education system is obsolete and incompatible with labour market needs. Graduates have out-dated theoretical knowledge and unrealistic expectations. Employers are forced to pour substantial resources into training first-time workers or rather compensating for the shortcomings of the education system with their costly internal educational programmes. This is something that countries with compatible education systems do not have to deal with.

We, at Karanović & Nikolić, have been fortunate enough to have excellent cooperation with the Faculty of Law the management of which is attuned to the needs of the business segment while recognizing contemporary trends in higher learning. What makes them special is the fact that they involve legal professionals into their curriculum, and our lawyers have been guest lecturers at various workshops where students learned about business practices and could talk to us about the practical application of their theoretical knowledge.

We are pleased to see that many workshop participants often apply for a job at our firm once they graduate, and some of them start their careers through our Intern-Candidate programme. I think there is enough good will in the ministry and in the education system to change things for better. Having an open dialogue with business is of crucial importance for the success of reforms.

What, do you think should be included in existing economic reforms in terms of HR?

Workforce flexibility is a key prerequisite for successful business. Properly regulating the work done by staff leasing and recruitment agencies has been on hold for 10 years now. These agencies employ quite a few people and are of great help to employers because they deal with all the employment-related paperwork, leaving companies with more time and energy to engage in their core business.

On the other hand, radical changes are needed in eliminating unreported work, which can be done pretty quickly and efficiently by having the minimum wage as a non-taxable basis for taxes and contributions. Hundreds of thousands of unreported workers would re-enter the employment system this way, making them and their employers more visible and protected by relevant institutions.

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