Summary of Desk Research

Since 2007, when Bulgaria joined European Union, the country developed two National LLL Strategies covering the periods 2008 – 2013 and 2014 – 2020 respectively. Both strategies provide definition of LLL as a concept framework of these national strategic documents. The national concept is in line with the one accepted at EU level in the Memorandum for Lifelong Learning (2000).

The LLL Strategy, 2014 – 2020 gives the following definition of lifelong learning: “all purposeful learning activity, undertaken on an on-going basis with the aim of improving knowledge, skills and competence”. The Strategy outlines the content, forms, environment, and interactions among all players in the lifelong learning process- learners, training providers (public and private), the employers, trade organisations, labour unions, civil society organisations, and other partners, the regions, municipalities, local communities, government bodies (ministries and agencies).

The stakeholders in development and coordination of national LLL policy implementation include participants at national, regional and local level.

At national level

It is a practice in Bulgaria the strategic documents, as well as legislation, in the field of LLL and related spheres of youth and employment to be drafted and implemented jointly mainly by:

  • Respective responsible government institutions – Ministry of Education and Science, Ministry of Labour and Social Policy, Employment Agency, National Agency for Vocational Education and Training, Agency for Child Protection, Ministry of Culture, Ministry of Health, Ministry of Youth and Sports, Ministry of Economy, branch Ministries of agriculture, transport etc.;
  • Social partners – nationally representative employers’ and employees’ organizations.

During the last years non-government organisations active in the field of education and training, representatives of universities and research institutes have also been involved.

At regional and local level

According to legislation, LLL policy is developed and implemented respectively by:

  • Regional Development Council to the Regional governor;
  • Municipal Council.

The main characteristics of Bulgarian LLL policies could be summarised as follows:

  • LLL policy is integrated in the employment and youth sectors polices at national level, which is the advantage of the LLL strategic framework in the country.The efforts to implement national LLL strategy at regional level need to be intensified.
  • Substantial improvements of the legislative basis have been done during the last years in order to broaden access to LLL, to ensure higher quality of training, to improve the link between education and training and labour market needs, to recognise and validate non-formal and informal learning.
  • Training vouchers have been implemented since 2010 under OPHuman Resources Development for employed and unemployed persons.

Summary of practical results
The participation of the population in LLL is low -1,7% 2013 (Labour force survey). Compared to the other EU countries Bulgaria’s position has also deteriorated significantly according to data of Adult Education Surveys.
Lots of practical actions have been implemented during the last few years to ensure opportunities for acquiring vocational qualification and development of key competences by persons above the age of 16 (employed and unemployed) persons. Most of them were funded by OP Human Resources Development.
With introduction of changes in legislation basis was created for validation of vocational knowledge skills and competences acquired through non-formal and informal learning, as well as for implementation of ECVET and improvement of quality in VET, especially the link with employers’ requirements. Actions were implemented for development of career guidance in the school and employment system. The focus of all these efforts is to stimulate and support learning in different forms and contexts.

The 10 good practices summarised address the necessity to develop evidence based LLL policy, regular promotion of benefits of LLL for the learners of all ages, implement effective cooperation mechanisms between LLL actors at national, regional and local level, improvement of the link between education and training and the needs and requirements of the labour market, as well as of access to education and training and attractiveness of learning for all citizens, including by offering distance and e-learning, implementing modern technologies in teaching and learning, make life in school interesting by offering various opportunities for the students to develop their interests, talents, creativity etc.

The policy recommendations defined during the national LLL-FORUM could be summarised as follows:

  • Further actions should be planned and implemented in order to ensure the functioning of the lifelong guidance system, which is necessary for the functioning of the LLL system.
  • Mechanisms for the regular monitoring of LLL actions during and after their implementation should be put in place not only through quantitative indicators but also through quality indicators based on the results of specialised research, including research on final beneficiaries.
  • It is necessary to intensify efforts in integrating more coherent actions for the development of opportunities for non-formal learning. More information about providers available online would also be very useful for supporting the learners. Measures for the development of non-formal providers’ capacity are needed as well.
  • The implementation of actions for ensuring a link between the education sector and labour market needs and requirements in terms of qualifications, as well as knowledge, skills and competences, needs to be intensified. The existing mechanisms for cooperation with employers in this respect have to be improved.

One “prominent fact”

The cooperation between responsible government institutions, employers’ and employees’ organisations related to elaboration and implementation of national LLL policy, especially in the field of initial and continuous VET, has developed. Results of this are the LLL strategy, annual National Employment Action Plans, planning, implementation and monitoring of national programmes and projects in the field of education, training and employment.

Main axis of progress for the next period (until 2020), as defined in the LLL Strategy

  • Application of the National Qualifications Framework and elaboration of sector-specific qualifications frameworks;
  • Introduction of a system for validation of knowledge, skills, and competences attained through non-formal training and informal learning until 2018;
  • Introduction of a credits system in VET until 2016 and ensuring compatibility with the higher education credit accumulation and transfer system;
  • Development and expansion of the career guidance system and creation of conditions for formation and development of career planning skills, both in pupils and university students, as well as in adults;
  • Expansion of the use of the European system of identification, assessment, and certification of knowledge, skills, and competences – the Europass CV and the European Skills Passport;
  • Introduction of a systematic approach to quality assurance, incl. setting up a common system for evaluation of students, teachers, and the school environment;
  • Regular updating of the academic content for the purpose of creating basic skills and key competences in line with the labour market and the new public expectations;
  • Introduce VET quality assurance system by the end of 2015;
  • Update the state educational requirements for attainment of qualification by professions by basing them on the learning outcomes and increase their consistency with the professional standards.
  • Stimulate non-formal training and informal learning within the Learning Regions initiative.

Find below a list of related links: 

National Strategy for Lifelong Learning of The Republic of Bulgaria for the period 2014 – 2020
Assessment of Impact of the National Lifelong Learning Strategy for the period 2008-2013
Law on Amendments of the Law for Vocational Education and Training
Project “New Opportunity for My Future”
Project “Network for Effective Lifelong Learning Initiatives and Information”(NELLII)
Project “To make school attractive for young people” (SUCCESS)
Project “Students’ and Pupils’ Practices”
Project “Development and introduction of an information system for labour force competence’ assessment by branches and regions”
Voucher system for vocational training of adults
Project Learning Augmented Reality Global Environment” (LARGE)

View and Download Bulgarian National State of Play Report