Sokol Zeneli

Candidate for Head of Team of Research


What is your motivation to apply for this position?    

Through my academic and professional engagement, I have been able to experience the three educational systems in the WB6. While youth potential is very high in the region, education and employment remain the biggest challenges due to the lack of ability from policymakers to address them with evidence-based research and policies. Starting from the lack of proper curriculum to the discrepancy between skills gained through education versus skills demanded from the labor market, unfortunately youth today find “solutions” in emigration and working abroad.

Contributing to the development of the region has been my motivation in all my previous jobs, however with experience it has been reshaped and fine-tuned with the desire to tackle the problem from the roots and promote the good solutions. Which brings me to this position and the interest to join an initiative where I can engage and support research that aims to advance education in the whole region.


What plans or ideas do you have for the team?

Clear goals: In order to provide reliable/credible work, we need to ensure that we are delivering meaningful and quality research. Hence, it is important to have a clear idea of our overarching approach, our angles of research and our means of work. In my opinion, this clarification is the precondition to ensure the research we conduct responds to a certain need and target group/s.

Coherent layers of teamwork/ Build upon our strengths: I see proper planning and strategic thinking as key elements of the success of each work/project. To achieve this, it is crucial that the topic/s we delve into/research on should be aligned with the internal capacities of the team. Therefore, it is crucial to have a work strategy of the research topics we want to engage in, recognize the strengths of the team, and build our work upon them.

Inclusiveness: I would be very open in promoting inclusive means of conducting research. Including different stakeholders as co-designers during the research design phase in my experience has resulted to be one of the most defining ways to ensure long lasting impact.

Communicating the research: Equally important to the overarching approach of the research is the way we communicate the research and its findings. Ensuring proper communication contributes enormously to the impact of the research itself. Therefore, my other engagement with the team will be to make sure we are reaching our target groups through the channels and the tools they are using.


What skills and qualities can you bring to this position?

As a Program Assistant at RYCO, I have been directly involved in the unit of research and M&E, through which I have experienced innovative means of research, including co-design teams from youth who supported the design of the research – a practice which I think would be an added value at WBAA.

I have been closely working with the educational institutions in the region, both at higher education and high schools. I have created a knowledge-based understanding of the challenges education faces in the region, and I firmly believe it will help us in the long run to ensure we are delivering well thought and impactful research.

I have supported the creation of the newly established institute- Regional Action Lab (Re-Act Lab) where I’m engaged as Director of Programs & Researcher. The institute has three areas of work: resilient societies, good governance & connectivity. My experience in managing & research in this institute will further support the development of the WBAA research team.


Please describe your previous involvement with WBAA.

I have participated in one of the workshops held in Novi Sad in November 2019 – “In the Balkan the Mighty Balkan”.