The Bulgarian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BCCI) published a survey among the members of the Chamber on their opinion about the level of education and the demand of the companies for personnel by specialties. The results also include proposals for improvements in the education sector.
Employers once again evaluate the quality of training of university graduates in Bulgaria as unsatisfactory. Nearly two thirds (61%) believe that students need additional knowledge. Employers consider that the main problems are related to specific professional skills and teamwork. The lack of entrepreneurial thinking and approach to work are also a problem, as well as the limited practical knowledge – it is hard for graduate students to put theoretical knowledge in practice.
The main shortage of specialists is in the field of mechanical engineering, electrical engineering and economics. The survey also shows lack of medium level staff with specialized skills, such as turners, miller, grinders, fitters, etc. – activities which could not be compensated by the appointment of engineers. More than 70% of the survey respondents expect that in the next 5-10 years professionals with technical education will be needed and 35% – people with economic education.
Some 41% of employers have trained additionally the young people employed by them due to gaps in their education. When they can’t find sufficiently trained staff with proper qualification, most companies invest in training of current employees or hire new employees they additionally train. Only 4% have been looking for opportunities to appoint people from other countries, and every tenth company has invested in technologies which eliminate the need for a job position for the respective activity.
The proposals of employers to improve the qualification level of the staff in Bulgaria include:
– more practical training and correspondence between the university specialties and those demanded on the labor market
– independent external evaluation of students’ knowledge
– funding of specialties should be according to the quality of education, not according to the number of students
– state quota students should be required to work in the country a certain number of years in order to reduce the outflow of personnel
– rewriting of lecture material, so that it is in line with the modern scientific achievements
– dual form of education yields good results and should be introduced in more schools
The same issues and recommendations have also been included in another document – Volume 2 of the Education and Training Monitor 2016 of the European Commission. The document covers basic and higher education and briefly outlines the main advantages of the national system of education and training, as well as the main challenges it faces. This report also points out the lack of relevance of education to the labor market and the insufficient links between training and research as priority areas, which should be focused on. The low labor market relevance is said to be related to the mismatch between graduates’ competencies and labor market needs, shortage of staff in the field of engineering and technical sciences, limited connection between curricula and the labour market, the need for more practical training and insufficient career guidance. Methods of teaching in our country lag behind modern trends and procedures for accreditation and evaluation of universities are complex and inefficient.
The strategy for higher education proposes a series of measures, including improving the quality of higher education, setting up a sustainable and efficient link between higher education institutions and the labour market, promoting research, updating the governing system and overcoming the negative trends in the career development of lecturers at higher education institutions and creating incentives for them.
Detailed data from the survey of BCCI carried out during the period January 31 – February 3, 2017 are published on the website of the Chamber.
Volume 2 of the Education and Training Monitor 2016 of the European Commission is available on the website of the European Commission.