National Vocational Education and Training Programme No 14
National Programme "Vocational Education and Training" No. 14 within the 21 National Programmes for the Education Development 2023 has been designed in accordance with Priority Area 7 "Realization in the Professions of the present and future" of the Strategic Framework for the Development of Education, Training and Learning in the Republic of Bulgaria (2021-2030). It aims at providing facilities in line with the current requirements of the labour market, providing qualitative vocational training in real working conditions and facilitating their realisation on the labour market, modernising the curriculum content for vocational education and training at national and sectoral level, as well as developing and updating national examination programmes for the compulsory state examination for the acquisition of vocational qualifications.
Two modules under implementation:
- Module 1 "Modernisation of the facilities and material base".
- Module 2 "Modernisation of teaching and examination content"
State educational standards
In 2023, a number of state educational standards have been set for the acquisition of qualifications in professions according to the List of Professions 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.
Modernisation of vocational education and training
A project proposal of the Ministry of Education and Science (MES) has been approved under the direct grant procedure BG05SFPR001-3.001 "Modernisation of Vocational Education and Training" within Priority 3 "Linking Education with the Labour Market" of the Education Programme with a total budget of BGN 70 million.
The project is of strategic importance and is aimed at modernising vocational education and training in order to prepare a skilled and sustainable workforce prepared for the challenges associated with the transition to a digital and green economy. It is foreseen to implement activities for:
- development and implementation of a new List of Vocational Education and Training Occupations and a new curriculum;
- the introduction and implementation of flexible pathways, micro-qualifications and credits in VET;
- improving the skills and competences of vocational teachers and students;
- developing and introducing educational resources with innovative digital learning content;
- conducting student placements in real work environments and increasing the attractiveness of vocational education and training among students and parents.
Developing Centres of Excellence in Vocational Education and Training
The procedure BG-RRP-1.014 "Establishment of Centres of Excellence in Vocational Education and Training" is open for investments under the Recovery and Sustainability Mechanism. The procedure is in implementation of the policy of the Ministry of Education and Science in the area of education and is funded under Component 1 "Education and Skills", Investment 2 (C1.I2) "Modernisation of Educational Infrastructure" of the National Recovery and Sustainability Plan.
The main objective of the procedure is the provision of modern and high-tech facilities in vocational schools with a view to transforming them into Centres of Excellence in Vocational Education and Training ("CoE VET"), which will provide the opportunity for modern vocational training of students within the school education, responding to the societal transformations in the 21st century and the changing requirements of the labour market. The total amount of funding is 97 million BGN. Twenty-eight vocational secondary schools have been identified to receive the status of CoE VET.
Integrated territorial investment concepts
The procedure BG16FFPR003-2.001 "Concepts for Integrated Territorial Investments (ITI)" is open for applications with concepts for ITIs envisaging funding from various programmes including the Education Programme for the period 2021-2027.
The Education Programme 2021-2027 activities that will be implemented through the ITI approach are targeted at:
- adult literacy with a total budget of 65 million BGN.
- integrated programmes at municipal level for desegregation of schools, prevention of secondary segregation and anti-discrimination with a total budget of BGN 26 million.
- development of the dual training system in vocational education and training with a total budget of BGN 86.8 million.
National Employment Agency
In 2023, unemployed people have the opportunity to participate in training for the acquisition of professional qualifications or key competences, organised and funded by the National Employment Agency. The trainings are carried out within the framework of the National Action Plan for Employment 2022 by the State Enterprise "Bulgarian-German Centre for Vocational Training", the Centre for Human Resource Development and Regional Initiatives at the Ministry of Labour and Social Policy and projects of the social partners.
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.