Iceberg model and Employment Issues in Bosnia and Herzegovina /Thinking Out Loud/

I have firstly encountered Iceberg Model somewhere on the Internet during 2017, in one of Leyla Acaroglu’s articles/blogs. It immediately made sense to me and I copied it to my notepad. In short, it’s a tool used to gain a deeper understanding of things. It illustrates that things we see or read about in newspapers (events) are only a tip of iceberg. There’s much more of iceberg under the water, just as there are things that influence things we see or read about, but are not easily visible.

source:  Leyla Acaroglu 

A few days ago I tried to find Leyla’s post, but failed. Instead, I found Systems Thinking With The Iceberg: A Tool for Multi-stakeholder System Sight which explains it nicely.

In order to help myself understand (un)employment in Bosnia and Herzegovina better, I decided to give the iceberg model a try. Here are the first results:

right click -> open image in the new tab to see full size image


  • Poor working conditions in industry: overtime work, irregular salaries, “bossing”, incomplete salaries at the end of the month, poor salaries…
  • Employers report that high school graduates don’t have appropriate knowledge
  • Employers often don’t register their employees (they usually do it later, when state offers incentives for employment)
  • Enterprises can’t find workers
  • Unemployed persons show poor interest for employment programs (note: high school graduates show best interest)
  • Enterprises mostly need low skilled workers


  • Workers are leaving B&H, especially younger people (large percentage of them is finding jobs abroad with help of Employment Offices)
  • High-income families are also leaving (some of the reasons I found in interviews online are general uncertainty and lack of possibilities for professional advancement)


  • Enterprises must offer their products for low price to be competitive (since without Research&Development and final products, they don’t have many possibilities), so they are making saving by paying low salaries


  • Ingenuity at the expense of the state
  • “If others are doing it so will I”
  • “It’s better to do nothing for nothing, then to work for nothing”
  • general belief that it’s a shame not to finish a college

I’m about to add more events in the next few days (or weeks), which I will use to see if there are any new patterns or structures appearing. I’m also sure some things are misplaced, but still I decided to post it. If someone who has used Iceberg model in practice and/or is interested in the same topic is reading, a comment would be great.

To be continued…

How much incorrent secondary data are? (In context of employment in RS)

Republic of Srpska (federal unit of Bosnia and Herzegovina) has, based on Employment Office records, 116 274 job seekers as of October 2017. According to these data, unemployment is significant. Someone could say there is not enough jobs in Srpska, since these people can’t find one. Even Employment Office, in such deficit of jobs, published advertisements for employing our people in Slovenia, Slovenian Post Office for example, or various private owned businesses. Apparently, they have deficit of workers, and we have plenty.

Is this so?

When you talk to domestic enterprises and people from these enterprises, you’ll hear they have serious problems finding not only skilled workforce, but more and more any workforce. Also, projects organizing trainings for acquisition of skills for work in industry have problems with low number of unemployed people applying to these trainings.

So, something here isn’t right.

There are many unknown elements in this equation, but now I want to concentrate on one of them, which is of technical nature. Number of listed unemployed persons, or active job seekers, does not corelate to real situation.
Namely, job seekers are divided into two groups: passive and active. Passive job seekers (an oxymoron) are not seeking for a job. They are registered in the Employment Office records because of exercising their constitutional rights on health insurance. Even though they are called “job seekers”, they are not job seekers. Everybody is aware of that and they do not participate in this number of 116 274 job seekers.
Active job seekers should be really seeking for the job. They are, from time to time, contacted by Employment Office for job interviews in enterprises. They do make the number of 116 274 job seekers. Problem with reliability of the job seekers list exists because of the way job seekers are classified in active or passive group – they declare themselves as passive or active. Part of those people, de facto passive job seekers, are declaring themselves as active ones in fear they will be deleted from the list and loose their constitutional right on free health insurance. While talking to employees of Employment Office, you can hear that number of active job seekers varies depending on statements of high-ranking RS Government officials regarding deleting passive job seekers from the list. During the job interviews, these persons say to potential employer that they participate only pro forma.

I’m not sure is it possible to determine approximate number of such cases, but I’m afraid they make too large percentage of the active job seekers. This could, partly, explain wrong perception of Republic of Srpska as area with surplus of unemployed people.

In any case, secondary data should be defined the way that they make easier, instead of they make more difficult proper treatment of the problem they are related to.