Adoption of an Action Plan for the implementation of the National Strategy for Poverty Reduction and Promotion of Social Inclusion 2030
With the Decision of the Council of Ministers No. 338 of May 3, 2023, an Action Plan for the period 2023-2024 for the implementation of the National Strategy for Poverty Reduction and Promotion of Social Inclusion 2030 was adopted. An essential place in the Plan is occupied by training measures, promoting the start-up and development of social enterprises, as well as providing employment to persons from vulnerable groups by providing personal assistance to people with permanent disabilities.
The Action Plan contains a number of sectoral measures to support children and families - promoting the employment of parents, reconciling professional and family life, expanding the network of services for early childhood development, ensuring access to health care, providing affordable and quality social and integrated services, financial and material support for families with children, etc. It is planned that by the end of 2024, under Operation "Starting Work" Component 2 "Training" under The Human Resources Development Programme (2021-2027), 14,000 unemployed and inactive persons will be supported. 11,200 of them at the end of the operation will acquire qualification. In 2022, under the Project "Ready for Work" (under The Human Resources Development Operational Programme) activation experts motivated 4,310 inactive youth to register and seek assistance and support for inclusion in training and/or employment. For the current and next year, target values of 18,810 inactive participants aged 15-29 have been set, incl. outside training or education to be covered.
Upon leaving the operation, the trainees should be engaged in education/training, have received a qualification or have a job, incl. as self-employed persons. Activities to increase the qualifications and skills of unemployed persons in accordance with the needs of the labor market and the requirements of employers are also carried out under a two-year plan for trainings at the The Bulgarian-German Vocational Training Centre State Enterprise and trainings at the Center for human resources development and regional initiatives. Unemployed persons from vulnerable groups on the labor market are involved in training and employment through projects implemented by the social partners to meet employers' needs for a workforce with certain qualifications.
In 2022, dual training was provided to 254 unemployed persons, of which 198 were newly enrolled. Both this year and next year, activities are planned again to improve the employability of the unemployed, by including them in a dual training system. 40,000 unemployed and inactive persons will be included in training in Operation Digital Skills. 13,900 employed persons, incl. self-employed can be trained under the Operation "Qualification, Skills and Career Development of Employed Persons". 8,757 of them upon leaving the operation will receive a qualification and 11,120 will acquire digital skills. A programme has been created for the initiation and development of independent business activities for people with permanent disabilities. Projects to create Centers for protected employment to ensure labor integration for people with multiple permanent disabilities, mental disorders and/or intellectual disabilities are being made. It is planned to have 4 Centers for protected employment by the end of 2024.
The Programme for training and employment of long-term unemployed persons, National programme for employment and training of people with permanent disabilities, National programme "Activation of inactive persons", National programme for training and employment of refugees continue to operate and activities activities under these programmes are implemented.
In 2022, on the basis of the accumulated experience regarding the changes in the economy in conditions of a pandemic, a flexible organization was created to ensure the training of employed and unemployed persons to acquire the skills sought by employers. There is a growing need for retraining or upgrading the qualifications of exempted workers as a result of the epidemic situation. One of the main tasks of the active labor market policy is the development of the workforce by providing training for the acquisition of new knowledge and skills in response to changes in the needs of the economy as a result of both technological and demographic trends and the crisis of COVID-19. Funds for active labor market policy continue to finance activities to implement the Council Recommendation of 2016 to increase the skills of adults, to improve their language and mathematical literacy, to increase their competence in the field of digital technologies , as well as for acquiring higher educational levels according to the European Qualification Framework.
The European Skills Agenda for sustainable competitiveness, social justice and sustainability continues to be implemented. Quantitative goals for increasing the participation of the population in training are set in the programme. Focus is placed on persons with low levels of education and qualifications and the unemployed, as well as on increasing digital skills. Special attention is paid to developing people's skills to support the green and digital transition of the economy and society.
The National Employment Action Plan for 2022 envisages the provision of training for unemployed persons from disadvantaged groups in the labor market in order to activate and improve their employability. In order to guarantee higher efficiency, the trainings take into account the characteristics and specific needs of individual target groups, as well as the short-term and long-term needs of the labor market. For each unemployed person, the need for training is determined in his individual plan. Services for 'supported employment', vocational guidance, vocational training and training in key competences can be used. Funds from the state budget under programmes and projects finance training for the acquisition of knowledge and skills in occupations in demand on the labor market by employed and unemployed persons.
On-the-job training continues, including apprenticeships and traineeships, for unemployed young people without professional experience and for low-skilled unemployed to acquire knowledge and skills under the guidance of experienced professionals. On-the-job training (dual system of training) is also conducted for the unemployed and especially for young people who dropped out of education early.
Projects of the nationally representative organizations of employers and workers are implemented to improve access to the labor market of unemployed persons from disadvantaged groups by increasing their employability and adaptability. The trainings are for certain key competences, for obtaining a degree or a qualification in a part of a profession according to the demand of the employers. Some of the persons included in the training are provided with employment in the professions for which the training was conducted, for a period of not less than 3 months.
Working with young people requires constant contact and support. In this regard, the work of labor mediators with young people continues. It starts from the day of their registration at the labor offices with the preparation of an individual action plan and profile. According to the profile, the young person is directed to suitable vacancies in the primary market or is included in subsidized employment. If specialized support is needed to improve employability, young people are included in training, participate in a job search workshop, and receive psychological support. For young people with higher education, the implementation of the "Career Start" programme continues, with which they have the opportunity to gain 12 months of professional experience in the administration of the specialty they have acquired.
The programme has the highest net effect, which shows its positive influence on the employment of young people with higher education. The internship measure under the Employment Promotion Act continues to operate as internships are a proven approach to meeting the interest of the employer and the young person and an opportunity for both parties to find the desired workplace and, accordingly, the right worker/employee. Last but not least, young people with higher education can also be referred to the "Youth Employment" operation, which will continue to be implemented in 2022.
On the occasion of the International Youth Day - 12.08.2022, the Employment Agency organizes an information event. In the context of the 2022 European Year of Youth announced by the European Commission, the event promotes the Agency's capabilities to support the professional development of young people, as well as the implementation of initiatives to ensure quality jobs, internships and training opportunities .
The employment of a more skilled workforce in "green jobs" as well as "supported employment" by providing services to people with disabilities and other disadvantaged groups in the labor market to obtain suitability for permanent primary employment labor market has been promoted.
The Agency for People with Disabilities implements financing under targeted projects and programmes of specialized enterprises and cooperatives of people with disabilities, with a view to increasing their productivity and competitiveness, as well as increasing the employability of people with disabilities in a specialized work environment and improving their employment. Providing employment to people with disabilities in specialized enterprises and cooperatives is a long-standing practice in our country, as in many cases this is their only opportunity to participate in the labor market.
A new two-year plan is implemented by the State Enterprise "Bulgarian-German Center for Vocational Training" (DP BGTCPO) on the basis of the public tasks defined in the Employment Promotion Act with an increase in longer trainings. More courses for the acquisition of second and third degrees of professional qualification in professions/specialties with a demand on the labor market, as well as trainings for the acquisition of key competences, which contribute to increasing the employability of individuals, are held in the DP BGCSP. DP BGCPO also conducts trainings in implementation of the Agreement with the Ministry of Tourism for the training of personnel from the tourism sector.
The enterprise will also conduct training for adult trainers - teachers in vocational high schools, teachers in vocational training centers and mentors in companies. The trainings will contribute to increasing the methodological competence of teachers and professors by acquiring knowledge and skills for conducting an active, attractive and practically oriented learning process, which is an important factor for the development of the system for professional training of adults and increasing the quality of training in including dual training. In 2022, the application of an innovative approach to vocational guidance continued, providing individuals with the opportunity to test their practical skills in their chosen profession with a view to making an informed and better-informed choice of profession in conditions of restrictions and termination for certain periods of the present form of education.
A new approach to providing professional training in an electronic environment is being tested together with the Center for Human Resources Development and regional initiatives in response to the challenges of conducting face-to-face training in the conditions of a pandemic.
In 2022, the Employment Agency will implement several national programmes to promote employment and increase employability. National programme "Activation of inactive persons" has as its main objective the inclusion in the labor market of inactive persons and young people up to 29 years of age (inclusive) who do not work, do not study and are not registered in the Directorate "Labor Bureau" (DBT ), and of unemployed persons. With regard to these persons, individual and group tools and services are applied to motivate them to register at the labor offices and promote their inclusion in training, return to the education system and/or employment.
The "Refugee Employment and Training Programme" supports the labor market integration of foreigners who have received refugee status or humanitarian status in 2022 by increasing their suitability for employment through inclusion in Bulgarian language training, training to acquire a professional qualification and provision of subsidized employment.
The coronavirus pandemic has accelerated green and digital transitions and posed new challenges to the professional development of many people. They will need to acquire new skills or improve their skills in order to adapt to the changing labor market. Skills development is an important task of the Employment Agency in 2021 to support the preparation of the workforce for the post-crisis labor market. The new structural trends require raising the qualification, retraining and improvement of the skills, incl. digital, for both the unemployed and the employed. A proactive approach will be applied, including forecasting skills needs, training in close cooperation with labor market stakeholders. The proactive approach also includes the identification of growing sectors, the professions sought and the provision of appropriate vocational guidance for the workforce, incl. through career centers.
In 2021 The State Enterprise "Bulgarian-German Center for Vocational Training" (BGCPO) provides an opportunity to conduct more courses with a longer duration in professions / specialties, not provided with sufficient appropriate staff. In addition to trainings for acquiring professional qualification and key competencies, the company also conducts trainings for adult educators - teachers in vocational high schools, teachers in vocational training centers and mentors in companies. In 2021, the application of an innovative approach to career guidance continues, such as individuals are given the opportunity to test their practical skills in their chosen profession in order to make an informed and better awared choice of profession.
In 2021 in the context of the new European Skills Agenda for Sustainable Competitiveness, Social Justice and Sustainability (European Skills Agenda), which focuses on enhancing digital skills and creating the conditions for training in such skills, along with other key competencies, trainings on key competence “Digital competence” are also financed. This will ensure the improvement of the digital skills of the unemployed, whose presence is increasingly a crucial condition for their employment by employers. The small, micro and medium-sized enterprises have the opportunity to request the inclusion of their employees in training for acquisition of key competencies. Employers are committed to provide the employment of those who have successfully completed the training for a period of not less than 6 months.
This year continues the training through work in the form of internships and apprenticeships. The practical acquisition of a profession through the inclusion of unemployed persons in in-service training (dual training system) continues to be promoted. Employers who have opened a job for in-service training are provided with financial incentives for the duration of the training.
Ensuring conditions and employment opportunities for the long-term unemployed is among the main priorities of active labor market policy and is in line with the EU Council Recommendation on the integration of the long-term unemployed into the labor market. "Program for training and employment of the long-term unemployed" is implemented to increase the employability of persons by including them in training, leading to increased knowledge and skills. The Program is valid until 31.12.2021, but based on the monitoring and evaluation of the implementation of the Program, its validity can be extended.
The Refugee Employment and Training Program supports the labor market integration of foreigners who have been granted refugee or humanitarian status in the current year or in the previous two calendar years by increasing their employability through inclusion in Bulgarian language training, training for acquiring professional qualification and providing subsidized employment.
The Career Start program aims to provide employment opportunities for unemployed young people who have completed higher education, in order to facilitate the transition between education and employment, as well as to achieve a flexible combination of knowledge, skills and experience in line with the requirements of the market economy.