22 | January | 2019
03 December 2018 10:40
2018 was the year of finalisation of the biggest in participation rate programme for vocation practicing among students in Bulgaria. The achievement of both principles of employability and knowledge and skills accumulation was regarded in it, as the vocational qualification services were framed under similar public funded programmes in Bulgaria and in the European Union. Though both at European level and much more in Bulgaria the efforts for a less costly, but highly efficient instrument - the validating the informal learning, usually are made in parallel, and not incorporated in those programme.
For Bulgaria the employment rate of recently graduates has increased by 8 percentage points to 86.5% (for a decade), and is now above the EU average (84.9%). However, skills shortages, in particular in the manufacturing, construction and digital sectors, and skills mismatch remain (European Commission, Country Report Bulgaria 2018). Employers often identify gaps in knowledge and skills related in particular to the lack of "soft skills" among the recent graduates (Cedefop, Governance of EU skills anticipation and matching system, In-depth country reviews: Bulgaria 2018).
Considering the Council Recommendations towards the education and training organizations should facilitate access to formal education and training based on the results of non-formal or informal learning (EC 398/01, 2012) the national NAVET, clearly described the methods and means of collecting information – among them the legitimate evidence of work experience in a particular professional field, etc.
For matching both the recommendations and the benchmarks in Bulgaria the performance of the Burgas Free University (BFU) trainees practicing during the period 2016-2018 might be considered. The whole programme covered a practice of 240 hours of 40 000 students from all the Bulgarian universities, among them 977 from the BFU.
The results proved that the duration of practice in a real working environment is sufficient as a volume, and that the trainees learned new knowledge and skills, quickly entered the nature of the practice. For the dominant majority the acquired knowledge of the specialty helped the trainees to perform the tasks assigned during the practical training in a real working environment. Substantially, the mentors from the employer organisations paid attention and created opportunities to acquire a variety of professional skills.
Important during the practices were the cases – at the business related vocations to consider the period of practice as informal learning that might be validated. Practically that process fit well with the established requirements for the students after their third academic year to have a 45 days practice based on the verification from the adviser, the certificate from the employer and on a structure report demonstrating acquired knowledge by the student.
Further to this article, the author will propose to identify possibilities and gaps, and suitable approaches when a next support schemes are to be designed. Definitely the certificate that was issued for the period of practice might be rearranged or come with a supplement confirming the ILV.