The main institutions in Bulgaria for the implementation of Lifelong Learning are:
- Schools for secondary special professional education – vocational high schools (the majority of them already offer evening and part-time courses for adults to complete secondary professional education or professional training in the profession for 2nd or 3rd qualification degree);
- Colleges and universities for obtaining higher education and 4th degree of professional qualification;
- Professional training centers for adults for acquiring professional preparation in a profession or a part of a profession;
- Education institutions in the network of social work, which offer professional preparation and primary and/or secondary education for children and adolescents;
- Institutions for people, deprived of liberty;
- Various forms of training in the work place and professional qualification that are organized and implemented upon request of the employer within the professional organization.
University and School Open doors, Professional training centers
During open doors, candidate students may become familiar both with the University (the Center), the training in the various faculties, the professors and current students or specialists - their initiatives, projects, associations, etc.
They are introduced to the academic protocol and have a chance to feel the academic atmosphere, which is important for their subsequent adaptation in the new (educational) conditions. It also facilitates the process of an informed, motivated choice of school and major.
Internship programs as a form of students' practical preparation are a designated period of time (usually between 1 and 3 months) during which interns are trained a real work environment with the support of a mentor.
This is a relatively new area for Bulgaria and there is still no legal framework, regulating the relations between an intern and employer, university and employer, etc. However, some of the issues are addressed in the Law for the Administration and the Judiciary System Act, as well as in the Council of Ministers 103 Decree of 3 June 1991 for practical training of students from universities and college institutions, in the Labor Code and the Apprenticeship Contract, etc.
Different forms of postgraduate qualification are organized in the form of annual or short-term courses for updating and acquiring higher or addition professional qualification and/or legal capacity by people already working in a field. These types of training are offered from all universities in the country. They are subject of special advertisement and extremely sought after in the conditions of dynamic changes, structural reforms, and competitiveness and instability of the labor market.
Master Business Classes
Master business classes are a professional program aimed at training future business leaders, related to the idea of actual implementation of theory-practice link through the attraction of experts in a specific field (hospitality, marketing, tourism and etc.).
The goal is to build a responsible relation between present and future business leaders. For humanitarian sciences (psychology, pedagogy, social work) there are the so-called Summer schools. Usually, they are targeted at students in their 3rd or 3th year. Students apply via a motivation letter and a CV, and are selected by a jury in the relevant area of activity.
Educational expos are either annual or periodic. These are organized from different levels – regional, national, or international.
The calendar is seasonal and yearly. The national educational expo has become a tradition, and so have the exhibitions of academic literature at the end of the academic year’s second semester.
The group of learners in the levels of the higher school, professional training center, evening or part-time forms of professional training in vocational high schools have course a manager. His job is to track the relation between them and all other individuals related to the learners' preparation. In addition, the course manager assists the personal and psychological adaptation and integration of the learners to the environment, as well as to their future vocation.
Mentoring programs are offered in secondary and university education. They assist their adaptation to the learning process. They aim at improving their academic performances and establishing confidence in the training process and the transition further forms of education or vocations. There are mentoring programs, intended to support underrepresented (minority) groups in different fields (for example Science and Technology).
The purposes of the mentorship in higher education are related to:
- Increasing students' self-confidence;
- Increasing the motivation for learning and analyzing the importance of higher education;
- Creating networks between students and business;
- Decreasing the prejudice among employers against young people from minority groups;
The achievements are in the direction of:
- Supporting and motivating young people – motivation for learning and continuing education, participation in different activities, knowledge of the labor market, taking responsibility for their own future and positive attitude towards learning. Mentors are motivating students with lack of motivation for learning through the understanding that it is necessary to take responsibility for one's choices. Often participants in mentoring programs are becoming role models for their peers;
- Expansion of business ideology – it allows organizations to acquire a real understanding of society and how the workforce and job applicants change;
- “Opening” of the school, university – it builds a model of co-operation between the labor market, industries, schools and universities;
- Global approach – the opportunity for a paid internship is a part of the overall program for development of the mentors, who have the opportunity to be in a real workplace and to get know it.
Psychological counselling outside the institution
A variety of psychological services are now offered on the Bulgarian market. More and more people from all age groups are starting to rely on them for psychological and personal counselling. As the market for these services is still not very well regulated, the relationship between these institutions and professionals, and educational sectors is still unregulated.
Training programs – they are organized at the initiative of the employers or at the request of the trained persons. Thus, this module of qualification of professionals of all ages, in the context of lifelong learning, gradually becomes one of the key for maintaining psychological balance of personality and career longevity.
The beginning of the idea for Career Centers in Bulgaria is related to the opening of a Student Career Counseling Center in Sofia University in 2000 – a joint project with the National Employment Service, funded by the Richard Stagg's Fund (British Ambassador in Bulgaria at the time). The aim of the Centre is to create close links between higher education institutions, young professionals and students, and the businesses in Bulgaria. In April 2003, the center ceased its activities.
The Inter-University Centre for career developmentin was opened in July 2002 at the University of National and World Economy . In 2005 a larger-scale systematic construction of career centers in Bulgaria was opened. Between 2006 and 2007, a project funded by USAID (United States Agency for Dnternational Development), supported their establishment in 24 universities and other higher education institutions. There are no official statistics for the number of career centers in Bulgaria – their number varies between 40 and 54 in the system of university education and 4 and 6 for high school education.
One of the main activities is associated with the attraction of teachers (and /or volunteers, interns) to assist and promote the activity, either as mentors, supervisors or facilitators.
Overall, these activities are divided into two major fields:
- services for students-internships, student mobility, voluntary programs, social activities, trainings, seminars, master classes, business, career guidance and career planning, etc.;
- services for employers-developing and publishing vacancies and internship positions, the primary selection of job candidates, presentation of the organization, corporate presentations, scholarships, competitions, promotion, advertising of different programs and projects, etc.
Volunteering and youth exchanges offer an opportunity for exploring different paths for career development and for collecting good recommendations. Thus, volunteering in non-governmental or professional organizations enables young people to test and experience their opportunities, to check what they have learned is applicable in a real work situation, cope in a variety of situations and learn problem-solving skills.
"Career Days". The goal of this initiative is to familiarize students (and young professionals) with employers, who in turn will present their activities and opportunities for career development by offering internship programs and vacancies.
One of the priorities of "National Days of Career" is also the promotion of summer internships for college students, as a form of training and preparation for their future professional responsibilities by applying the acquired knowledge in a real business environment.
At the same time, companies that hired interns are facilitated in their selection of staff, as they have the opportunity to train and prepare part of their future employee’s from a very early stage.
Participants in the forum are leading Bulgarian and international companies, banks, consultancy firms and enterprises, structures of State Administration, which offer well developed training programs.
Alumni Clubs - some career centers have student database. These students may not only be included as lobbyists in the implementation of various initiatives, but also as mentors to current students. The Alumni Club supports the activities of a faculty through suggestions and ideas on current important questions for students, as well as through expertise and strategies for the development of the faculty - opportunities for partnerships, international cooperation and exchanges, etc. It is also a catalyst and partner in the implementation of various projects, reforms and innovations.
Recruiting and Human Resources agencies – in recent years they have started to play a new role – increasing the effectiveness of career guidance and counseling services, through development of a candidate's interpersonal skills and their professional preparation. The essence of career guidance and counseling lies in the development of the professional profile of a candidate (his knowledge, experience, skills) and referring him to an appropriate training and/or vocation.
Subdivisions Labour Bureau are territorial divisions of the General Directorate "Employment services" and their seats and territorial scope is determined by the rules of procedure of the employment agency. If necessary, new administrative sectors are esablished as part of the Bureaus. Some of their main activitiesare related to career guidance and training for unemployed people, as well as counselling and support in finding a new job:
Services for people actively looking for employment:
- Information for vacant jobs;
- Information on programs and measures for employment and training;
- Information and recruitment mediation;
- Professional information, advice and guidance;
- Vocational and motivational training;
- Engagement in programs and measures for employment;
- Scholarships for professional qualification trainings.
Services for employers:
- Participation in the development of regional and local programs for employment and training;
- Participating in the implementation of national, sectoral, regional and local programs for employment and training, including risk groups) into the labor market;
- Participation in and investigation of training needs.