CINOP supports in the restructuring of Bulgarian VET
22 September 2021
Donor: Ministry of Education and NAVET
Partner: PwC Bulgaria (lead), PwC Italy
For the past three years, CINOP has been involved in the improvement of vocational education in Bulgaria through the EU Structural Reform Support Service (SRSS) program. The aim of the implemented project was to better align the qualification structure and related tools of vocational education with the labor market and society, by strengthening the capacity and tools of the Bulgarian Ministry of Education and Science, the National Agency for Vocational Education (NAVET) and relevant stakeholders. Through this improved alignment of vocational education with the labor market, the availability of relevant skills for the labor market and employment and opportunities for lifelong development for Bulgarian citizens increases. In the second phase of this project, CINOP worked together with PwC Bulgaria, which was responsible for advice regarding the creation of so-called Sector Skills Councils in Bulgaria, which can contribute to improving the link between qualifications and curricula and the needs of the labor market. CINOP also focused on the advice for the revision of methods and the tools for a better connection of the qualification structure to the labor market.
Challenge and approach
In the Netherlands, there are so-called qualification frameworks that map out which skills are needed for which job and thus which vocational education is required. The Bulgarian qualification register was seen by stakeholders as outdated, insufficiently structured and unrecognizable for employers. As a result, there were too many irrelevant qualification files at an overly sophisticated and narrow level of abstraction. This makes entry-level professionals insufficiently broadly employable. A complete revision of the register is needed to bring the tool back up to date.
At the beginning of the project, a critical look was taken at the existing vocational education system and the extent to which it matches developments in the labor market. Through a thorough analysis of the current system and its instruments and by involving international practices, so-called ‘gaps’ in the current system and possibilities for improvement were identified. The project worked on a plan to fill in the gaps and to have the existing instruments better connect to developments in the labor market.
On the basis of a model for the qualification process in vocational education and with the help of an analysis of good practices from home and abroad, various points for improvement were identified. For example, it was concluded that Sector Skills Councils, which identify relevant labor market information and occupational standards, are crucial for optimal cooperation between stakeholders in vocational education. These profiles are a translation tool from labor market needs to educational standards and are missing in the current Bulgarian system. In addition, CINOP has written an advice and roadmap for an update of the qualification register so that professional requirements are better linked to training courses.
With the help of knowledge from other European countries and from the European programs implemented in the Netherlands (such as ECVET and EQAVET), CINOP was able to make various recommendations for improving Bulgarian vocational education. With these examples and guidelines, NAVET and the Bulgarian Ministry of Education and Science can create and secure TVET quality. Currently, a plan of action is being drawn up to convert all guidelines and advices into action points. For example, the Bulgarian trade unions are going to organize a discussion forum to further brainstorm on how to improve vocational education with the help of the guidelines.