The Employment Promotion Amendment Act, which makes changes to the Vocational Education and Training (VET) Act, is in force from June 2022. The change affects the minimum educational level requirements for inclusion of persons over 16 years of age in training for the lowest level of vocational qualification. The possibility of including persons without education in training for the acquisition of a vocational qualification is regulated, on condition that vocational education is combined with literacy training. This creates conditions for improving the employability and labour market integration of unemployed persons from disadvantaged groups on the labour market. The main objective is to activate an essential labour resource in the context of a declining labour force due to demographic processes.
The National Vocational Education and Training Programme, 2022 is aligned with the strategic priorities of the Republic of Bulgaria for the period 2021-2030 and is in line with the Action Plan to the Functional Analysis of Vocational Education and Training Policy, 2020. It has been developed in line with Priority Area 7 "Realization in the Professions of the Present and the Future" of the Strategic Framework for the Development of Education, Training and Learning in the Republic of Bulgaria (2021 - 2030). It aims to provide material facilities in accordance with the modern labour market requirements, to provide quality vocational training in actual working conditions and to facilitate their realisation on the labour market, to modernise vocational education and training curricula at national and sectoral level, as well as to develop and update national examination syllabuses for the compulsory state examination for the acquisition of vocational qualifications.
In 2022, a number of state educational standards have been set for the acquisition of qualifications in occupations, according to the List of Occupations for Vocational Education and Training of the Vocational Education and Training Act. This enables the transfer, recognition and accumulation of individual learning outcomes in VET achieved in formal, non-formal and informal contexts.
The developed Professional Competency Assessment System MyCompetence is functioning successfully and provides standards for the knowledge and skills required for occupying over 500 positions in 25 economic sectors, online tools for competency assessment, job analysis and evaluation, an e-learning academy and automated online information processing. Its main users are enterprises, managers and specialists in human resources management, labour market institutions, schools, universities, workers, vocational training centres, employees, unemployed, university and school students.
The list of state-protected occupational specialties for the 2022/2023 academic year has been updated, with 50 protected specialties. They are in the fields of mechanical engineering, metallurgy, mining, architecture, construction, transport, electrical engineering and energy, applied arts, etc. The list of occupational specialities for which there is an expected shortage of specialists on the labour market for the 2022/2023 academic year has also been updated. There is an expected shortage of 78 occupational specialties, which include machine technicians, machine operators, electricians, electrical fitters, chemical technologists, biotechnologists, glass workers, ship operators, sign language interpreters, polygraphers, etc.
The National Recovery and Resilience Plan of Bulgaria, adopted in May 2022, foresees further modernisation of the regulatory framework in the field of vocational education and training. The modernisation process is ongoing and by the Vocational Education and Training Act will be introduced changes to the VET Occupations List; training in fewer but broader spectrum occupations aiming to create employment conditions in similar occupations, including pass-through to similar sectors; preparation, guidance and motivation for entry into vocational training, including the provision of vocational education and training for those who have dropped out of the system; defining and implementing flexible pathways and forms to reach and train different groups of learners, incl. offering online and distance learning; reforming the content and updating state education standards and plans and programmes to include and build on knowledge and skills requirements for 21st century occupations: digital, green, transferable, key competences.
The National Plan by “Investment 3” foresees the provision of digital skills training and the creation of an adult learning platform. The project aims to increase access and quality training opportunities for adults (persons aged 16+) by leveraging the potential of digital technologies for online training on the one hand, and increasing the overall digital skills and competences of the workforce to enhance employability and participation in online training on the other. The project will be implemented in two components, including the development and implementation of a national virtual platform for online adult learning and the delivery of training to the workforce to acquire basic and intermediate level digital skills and competences.
There have been no reforms to date in this area.
(April - September)
The ongoing reform in the area of the Vocational Education and Training (VET) continue to aim enhancement the quality and establishing a system for management of the vocational education and building a bridge between the educational sector and the labour market. More concrete, the target is development of the VET by updating of the curricula with the contribution of the organisations representing the economic sectors, work based learning (dual system of training) and assistance for training in real working placement and in training enterprises. The efforts are concentrated towards making narrow linkage between the VET and socio-economic development of the regions and the strategic sectors of the economy.
For improvement the management and the system for ensuring the quality, the institutions in partnership within the Consultative council for VET are preparing a framework for quality of the dual system of training. For better correspondence of VET with the labour market and creating potential for increasing the qualification of the future work force in key for the economy professions, it is implementing the project “Support to dual system of training”. The aim is creating possibilities to the employers to hire qualified employees with appropriate professional training and experience, acquired during work based learning.
By the National programme “Modern educational atmosphere” 2020, module “Modernisation of the VET” there are given possibilities for modernisation of the educational environment and increasing the participation of VET in priority professions in partnership with the business. Similarly, within project “Technical support for establishing Sector Skills Councils” within the Structural Reform Support Programme of the EU there is establishing cooperation in the area of VET by branches of the economic sectors.
For achieving the reform, the legislative framework is updating. The Vocational Education and Training Act is updated in the part about the admission for school VET as the proposals for state admission are considered with the integrated territorial strategies for development of the regions and the plans for integrated development of the municipalities, and for the national schools with the National concept for regional development and also with national strategies and programmes. There are updated also the regulations concerning the documents for the Vocational education of individuals over 16 years old; curricula and programmes for various study subjects within the professional areas; state educational standards for acquiring professional qualification in accordance with the needs of professional competences. The List of the professions for VET is also updated.
In accordance with the needs of the labour market , the pupils’ interests and the capacity of the school there are ensured by the state admission 2020/2021 possibilities for making a choice of profile or vocational education towards encouraging the education in STEM professions. By Decision 285/30.04.2020 of the Council of ministers it is adopted National programme for school education “Building of school STEM environment”.
By the preparation of the National programme for development: Bulgaria 2030, within the Development axes 1. Innovative and Intelligent Bulgaria, the Government defines as Priority 1 Education and Skills. The goal is towards achieving results in the education and training area that to contribute Bulgaria to be rated on place that is higher than the average for the EU.
In the area of Adult learning, the National strategy for LLL for the period 2014-2020 is in process of implementation, the National platform for “United for Adult Learning” is updated together with the National information system for adult learning. For preparation of National programme in execution of the updated European Agenda for Adult Learning, a project 614188-EPP-1-2019-1-BGEPPKA3-ALAGENDA is in implementation as the efforts are focused towards improvement of the adults’ skills, preparation of proposals for development of the sector until 2030. The upcoming action is the Assessment of the impact of the policy for adult learning implemented in the period 2014-2020.
(January - March)
Vocational Education and Training Act
The possibility of the compulsory state examination for the acquisition of professional qualification in theory and practice of the profession, for the acquisition of the third degree of professional qualification at the stated desire of the student to be conducted through defense of a diploma project is introduced.
The composition of the commissions for conducting the examination for the acquisition of professional qualification is supplemented, and the manner of conducting the state examination for the acquisition of professional qualification through defense of a diploma project is regulated.
The system of vocational education and training includes the units under § 4k of the additional provisions of the Higher Education Act - The “Electronic Systems” Technological School at the Technical University - Sofia and The Vocational High School of Computer Technologies and Systems - Pravets.
Recognition of professional qualifications Act
An additional provision to the Act introduce a deadline for issuing the certificates related to the acquired professional qualification in the territory of the Republic of Bulgaria, necessary for access to or pursuing a regulated profession in the territory of another Member State, the standard term being 30 calendar days and the fastest - 10 working days.