Albania’s skills development system all too often has failed to equip students with the req­uisite knowledge, competitiveness and skills for a suc­cessful transition into the labour market and contribution to the country’s competitiveness. This has resulted in an unsuitably qualified labour force, skills shortages and soaring youth unemployment. Recognizing the need to systematically address em­ployment by re-orienting the skills development sys­tem towards labour market needs, and modernizing and extending outreach of employment services, the Albanian government adopted the National Employ­ment and Skills Strategy 2014-2020.

The ambition of the Swiss funded Skills Development for Employment (SD4E) Programme is to make a systemic contribution to the modernization of Al­bania’s skills development system by addressing several key challenges: skills mismatch and unequal access to employment and training services; labour market challenges in rural areas; insufficient governance of funding for employment and training; lack of coor­dination / collaboration in the system and between the system and economic sectors; inadequate labour market information; and insufficient quality and relevance of skills provisioning. The overall goal of the programme is that “more young women and men in urban and rural areas in Albania are employed or self-employed.”

Smart specialization is an innovative place-based approach that aims to boost growth and jobs in Europe, by enabling each region to identify and develop its own competitive advantages. Through its partnership and bottom-up approach, smart specialization brings together local authorities, academia, business spheres and the civil society, working for the implementation of long-term growth strategies supported by EU funds.

The underlying rationale behind the Smart Specialization concept is that by concentrating knowledge resources and linking them to a limited number of priority economic activities, countries and regions can become — and remain — competitive in the global economy. This type of specialization allows regions to take advantage of scale, scope and spillovers in knowledge production and use, which are important drivers of productivity. In short, Smart Specialization is about generating unique assets and capabilities based on the region's distinctive industry structures and knowledge bases.

To support Member States, candidate countries and other countries, which the EU cooperates with, it has developed the Smart Specialization Platform (S3P). The aim of this platform is to assist Member States, partner countries and regions to develop, implement and review their RIS3 strategies. Established in 2011 following the Communication 'Regional Policy contributing to smart growth in Europe 2020', the role of the S3 Platform is to provide information, methodologies, expertise and advice to national and regional policy makers, as well as contribute to academic debates around the concept of smart specialization. The S3P is hosted by the Joint Research Centre and the Innovation Directorate.

The Republic of Albania has declared its commitment to collaborate with the Joint Research Centre (JRC) of the European Commission to develop a National Smart Specialization Strategy. Further a national team (working group) has been established to organize and monitor activities for the development of the Smart Specialization Strategy.

Duties and Responsibilities

This assignment is planned to support the working group established by Order No. 121, as of 16.03.2018 of the Minister of Education, Sport and Youth of Albania. The scope of this working group is to organize and monitor the process of developing the Albanian Smart Specialization Strategy.

For this purpose, the working group has already developed and approved the Roadmap for Smart Specialisation in Albania. As planned in the Roadmap the decision was made on a national Smart Specialization Strategy that will take into consideration the regional perspective. Following the formal request and establishment of the national S3 team (working group), the first following step in the process is the analysis of the context that starts with a mapping of the economic, research and innovation potential in Albania. This mapping will be crucial to carry out a more in-depth analysis of the priority domains for the Smart Specialization Strategy with a special focus on Region 2.

An international expert will be hired to prepare the ground for the design and development of the Albanian Smart Specialization Strategy. The expert will be supported by the analytical team appointed by the national S3 team (working group).

The expert will prepare a full mapping of economic, scientific and innovation potentials (at detailed NACE and subnational levels), and coordinate closely with the national partner institutions, and the established working group, especially its analytical team, on an ongoing basis during the contract period.

The support takes the form of data collection and cleaning, analysis, visualization and written deliverables. Three broad dimensions of indicators should be covered (see table below). Where possible, location quotients (LQs) should be calculated to benchmark subnational/regional indicators relative to the national, macro-regional (Western Balkans) and if possible EU-wide indicators. If data availability poses a problem, the expert will suggest alternative indicators that measure socio-economic aspects that are relevant for smart specialization.

Table: Dimensions to be covered provided data is available

Mapping dimension


Expert task

Economic potential

Concentration of companies per sector (NACE subsectors) (LQ)

Calculate and visualise data provided by partner countries

Concentration of employment per sector  (LQ)

Calculate and visualise data provided by partner countries

Concentration of value added per sector (LQ)

Calculate and visualise data provided by partner countries

Productivity per sector

Gather data together with partner countries and visualise data


Gather data and visualise data

Dynamics of all the above

Visualise patterns

Cluster data

Gather data together with partner countries and visualise data

Scientific potential

Concentration of scientific publications per area of science (LQ)

Calculate and visualise data provided by partner countries

Concentration of patent applications per area of international patent classification (LQ)

Calculate and visualise data provided by partner countries

Concentration of patents per area of international patent classification (LQ)

Calculate and visualise data provided by partner countries

Number of applications for R&D projects

Gather data together with partner countries and visualise data

Innovation potential

Share of companies investing in R&D per sector

Calculate and visualise data provided by partner countries

Share of companies investing in innovation activities per sector

Gather data together with partner countries and visualise data

Share of companies achieving income from selling innovative products per sector

Calculate and visualise data provided by partner countries

Share of companies cooperating in innovation per sector

Gather data together with partner countries and visualise data

Companies active in clusters

Gather data together with partner countries and visualise data

Other relevant dimensions

To be discussed and agreed with contractor


Approach/ Methodological approach

The expert will analyze sectors and inter-sectoral domains with proven capacity to drive transformation along the 3 dimensions of economic, research and innovation potential outlined above. Additional indicators can be added based on additional identified inputs and in agreement with the contracting authority. In case relevant statistical data is not available, the expert will analyze alternative data sources through desk research and with the support of the analytics teams in partner countries.

Ideally, the data used should be at NACE level 3 or 4, or comparable levels, so to allow for detailed analysis. Subnational data at NUTS 2 or 3 levels should be used wherever data availability allows. The analysis should use panel data going back 10 years or go as far back in time as data availability allows.

Measuring critical mass is both in relative and absolute terms. According to the approach followed at European level, for relative specialization, experts will calculate location quotients (LQ) to proxy specializations/concentrations relative to the national level and other regions. The formula used for this is:


= (ei/e) / (Ei/E)




= location quotient for sector in the regional economy


= employment in sector i in the regional economy


= total employment in the local region


= employment in industry i in the national economy


= total employment in the national economy

The absolute significance of a sector can also be defined by a threshold and could be normalized.

Combining both relative and absolute measures should be done by normalizing by national industry. This yields 3 options for thresholds, which should be all covered:

·         LQ, +/- 1.5

o    Decide for which sectors LQs will be calculated, e.g. only for those making up at least 1% of total regional employment

o    Establish threshold of 1.5% for e.g. employment and for number of companies to avoid biased representation of single large companies

·         % regional industry

·         % national industry

Databases should display absolute figures (critical mass) and specialization (location quotients) side by side. To group them, the contractor will use established categorizations like the Cluster Observatory, thus allowing also comparisons with EU member states.

The study will also identify and include information on emerging sectors with increasing degrees of specialization and relative size.

Finally, the expert will prepare preliminary list of priority domains based on the triangulation of above mentioned data. One key criterion is the 'stability' of specializations, i.e. if it appears only once or twice over a few years. Another concern is the matching of specializations across measured dimensions, i.e. where it is confirmed by the number of companies, employment and turnover/GVA. For instance, there may be a concentration of employment as expressed by LQ but GVA concentration in the same sector occurs in another region.

The international consultant will perform the following tasks:


Task 1

Prepare Interim report on economic potential, with a special focus on the Central region (region 2), (10 pages, see table above). Analytics teams established (technical groups established by the official working group) in the partner country will provide feedback on this report, based on which the mapping is continued.

Task 2

Prepare final report summarizing the mapping results for the country, with a special focus on the Central Region (region 2) (30 pages, covering broadly the dimensions in the table above). It contains clear maps and visualizations illustrating the most important insights at sectoral, cross-sectoral and subnational level and suggests a limited number of priorities for smart specialisation. Additional tables and visualizations should be annexed. This report is expected to be accompanied by cleaned datasets perfected in cooperation with local analytics teams.

The International Expert should work in parallel and exchange information with the members of the working group and its technical working groups.

Expected deliverables

  1. Interim report on economic potential (10 pages) with a special focus on the Central Region (region 2) and relevant tables and figures
  2. Final report (including relevant tables and visualisations) of the mapping results for the country, with a special focus on the Central Region (region 2) (30 pages covering the three dimensions)


The work is expected to be completed by the end of November 2018 and will indicatively include the following:



Due Date


Consult with the working group on the assignment, tasks, deliverables and timeline


September 14-15, 2018


Prepare interim report (task 1) on economic potential


October 1, 2018


Present and discuss interim report and adopt feedback at 1-day meeting with relevant members of the national smart specialization team, especially the analytics team


October 11, 2018


Prepare final report

November 12, 2018


Present and discuss final report at 1-day meeting with wider stakeholder audience.

November 22, 2018


Finalize and submit final report

November 30, 2018




The expert is expected to travel twice to Albania and spend up to 7 working days in the country according to the work schedule for this assignment.


Corporate and Core Competencies:

  • Demonstrates integrity by modelling the UN’s values and ethical standards;
  • Promotes the vision, mission, and strategic goals of UNDP;
  • Displays cultural, gender, religion, race, nationality and age sensitivity and adaptability
  • Communication - Facilitate and encourage open communication and strive for effective communication.
  • Planning & Organizing – Develops clear goals in line with agreed strategies, identifies priorities, foresees risks and makes allowances accordingly.
  • Organizational Awareness - Demonstrate corporate knowledge and sound judgment.
  • Teamwork - Demonstrate ability to work in a multicultural, multi-ethnic environment and to maintain effective working relations with people of different national and cultural backgrounds.
  • Accountability – Takes ownership of all responsibilities and delivers outputs in accordance with agreed time, cost and quality standards.


Required Skills and Experience

Recruitment Qualifications

  • Advanced university degree in Economics, Statistics or any other area directly related to the theme of work;
  • A minimum of 10 years of relevant working experience;
  • Demonstrated experience with the EU in the frame of development of smart specialisation strategies;
  •  Previous experience in supporting Western Balkans / EU accession candidate countries in the development of smart specialisation strategies and skills development.
  • Excellent interpersonal, communication and report-writing skills in English;

Evaluation of Applicants

UNDP applies a fair and transparent selection process that would consider both the technical qualification of Individual Consultants as well as their financial proposals. The contract will be awarded to the candidate whose offer:

  • Is deemed technically responsive / compliant / acceptable (only technically responsive applications / candidates will be considered for the financial evaluation)
  • And has obtained the highest combined technical and financial scores.

Technical Criteria - 70% of total evaluation – max points: 70

Criteria A -Relevance of education in the relevant field –  max 25 points;

Criteria B - Record of specific professional experience in analytical/research of economic, innovation and research potential of countries – max. 35 points;

Criteria C - Experience with analysing potential for smart growth in the Western Balkan region and / or other EU accession candidate countries – max. 10 points;

Financial Criteria – 30% of total evaluation – max. 30 points 

Application Procedure

Interested applicants are advised to carefully study all sections of this ToRs and ensure that they meet the general requirements as well as specific qualifications described. Incomplete applications will not be considered. Please make sure you have provided all requested materials.

The application should contain:

  • Cover letter explaining why you are the most suitable candidate for the advertised position. Please paste the letter into the "Resume and Motivation" section of the electronic application.
  • Letter to UNDP Confirming Interest and Availability-please fill in the attached form:
  • Filled P11 form including past experience in similar projects and contact details of referees, please upload the P11 instead of your CV. Download here
  • Financial Proposal - specifying a total lump sum amount (working days, travel, per diems, and any other possible costs) for the tasks specified in this announcement. Please note that the financial proposal is all-inclusive and shall take into account various expenses incurred by the consultant/contractor during the contract period (e.g. fee, health insurance, vaccination and any other relevant expenses related to the performance of service, etc.). All envisaged international travel costs should be included in the financial proposal. This includes all travel to join duty station/repatriation travel. 
  • Copy of Diplomas and copy of Passport.

*Kindly note that Letter to UNDP Confirming Interest and Availability and Financial Proposal are two separate documents and should be both part of your application.

How to Submit the Application:

To submit your application online, please follow the steps below:

  • Download and complete the UN Personal History Form (P11) for Service Contracts (SCs) and Individual Contracts (ICs);
  • Merge your UN Personal History Form (P11) for Service Contracts (SCs) and Individual Contracts (ICs), Financial Proposal. Letter to UNDP Confirming Interest and Availability and cover letter into a single file. The system does not allow for more than one attachment to be uploaded;
  • Click on the Job Title (job vacancy announcement);
  • Click “Apply Now” button, fill in necessary information on the first page, and then click “Submit Application;”
  • Upload your application/single file as indicated above with the merged documents (underlined above);
  • You will receive an automatic response to your email confirming receipt of your application by the system.

Due to large number of applications we receive, we are able to inform only the successful candidates about the outcome or status of the selection process.

UNDP is committed to achieving workforce diversity in terms of gender, nationality and culture. Individuals from minority groups, indigenous groups and persons with disabilities are equally encouraged to apply. All applications will be treated with the strictest confidence.