Vocational schools in Bulgaria offer their students theoretical and practical training without knowing
what exactly Bulgarian businesses expect from their graduates or how the labour market is evolving. This can lead to a gap between the skills taught in vocational education and training programmes and what businesses expect from graduates, and consequently also to a high unemployment rate, particularly among young people who have not yet entered the job market.
Through the DOMINO project, Switzerland supports Bulgaria in establishing a dual vocational education and training system that builds on the Swiss model and Swiss expertise. Vocational training is coupled with in-company training and thus has a greater focus on practical job skills. As a result, the workforce is better qualified and able to meet market demands, which contributes to the reduction of youth unemployment in Bulgaria.
Currently, 425 students in 16 vocational schools throughout the country have DOMINO dual education in five professional occupations in partnership with 63 leading Bulgarian and foreign companies. 14 more schools and three new professions, as well as new companies will become part of DOMINO in the coming school year. The total budget for the project is CHF 3,530,000, of which 15% is co-financed by the Bulgarian Ministry of Education and Science.
In May 2017, 20 students from the Ivan Hadzhienov vocational school in Southern Bulgaria were the first to have received certificates for dual education as part of the Swiss-funded DOMINO project. The DOMINO certificate complements the students’ high school diplomas and opens doors to successful careers as machine technicians.
«Being able to practice in a real business environment was the most valuable part of my education. DOMINO has helped pave the way for my future career», says graduate Mehmed Hadzhirenchvev, who soon started working in the factory where he gained his first working experience in the frame of dual education. Mehmed believes what makes the worthwhile is the solid practical foundation in being a good engineer that the dual education system provides. Mehmed’s younger brother is also going to follow this path and has signed up for the dual education class.
«If I had to make a career choice again, I would choose the dual education system again because both the school and the careers they offer provide future prospects», says Blagomira Georgieva. Like the rest of her class, she is very grateful to the instructors for helping and teaching the students in the factory. «Although we are still students, we were paid for our work under a labour contract», says Diyan Baev, proud of his contribution as a full-time worker. He is a passionate advocate of dual education and succeeded in convincing a number of his friends to follow this path. «As for the new school year, four new classes will be organised under the DOMINO project at the Ivan Hadzhienov vocational school», says school principal Mariana Demireva.