Labour Market, Education, Employment: Contemporary Challenges And Perspectives


From Early Retirement to Active Ageing: Social Inequalities in the Transition from Work to Retirement

Dirk Hofäcker, Stefanie König, Moritz Hess

Abstract: European pension policies have undergone a fundamental change throughout the last 20 years from promoting early retirement to extending working lives. Following recent labour market data, it seems as if the efforts are successful in delaying older workers’ labour force exit and increasing their employment rate. Although this development is found across Europe, its extent varies largely by the country context. In addition, it also differs between social groups, hinting at a persistence (or even re-emergence) of social inequalities in the transition to retirement. Comparative evidnce from the European labour force survey for fours elected country case studies suggests that already privileged groups benefit most from the policy shift, while low-skilled workers are struggling to extend their working lives in often hard working conditions.

Keywords: ageing; transitions from work to retirement; longer working life; retirement decisions in EU countries

The Role of Employers on the Labour Market in Bulgaria

Rumiana Stoilova, Veneta Krasteva, Gabriela Yordanova

Abstract: The article offers a comparison between young persons’ assessments of the difficulties encountered when seeking employment and employers’ assessments of the difficulty to find suitable employees. The authors use a mixed methods approach, which involves interpreting quantitative data obtained from online questionnaires for employers, and a qualitative method, consisting in interviews with young people, conducted in 2016 in the framework of the international project Negotiate. The study registers a shortage of staff in five sectors of employment in Bulgaria, together with the presence of attitudes, among those selecting people for recruitment, which limit the potential circle of candidates for job openings on the basis of ethnic origin. Frequent change of jobs is assessed by young employment candidates as being a possibility for obtaining additional experience, but is seen by employers as a scarring signal that has greater negative weight than the periods of unemployment in the candidate’s CV. Establishing a greater congruity between the expectations of employers and of young candidates for jobs provides a significant possibility for reducing youth unemployment and compensating for the shortage of staff. This congruity is connected with the young persons’ level and profile of education attained when leaving high school and university, to the specific actions they undertake in the transition from education to employment (where it is better to avoid frequent changes of jobs), to a rejection of negative ethnicity-based or age-based stereotypes on the part of employers, and to wage levels, offered by employers, that will meet the expectations of young people.

Keywords: recruiter’s evaluation; early job insecurity; mixed methods approach

Current Policies in Education and Vocational Training: Their Impact on the Labour Market

Emilia Chengelova

Abstract: This text reviews the strategic documents creating the regulatory and instrumental framework for the development of the labor market in Bulgaria. The subject of assessment arethose documents which specifically present social policies and measures focused at effectively influencing the labor market in the short, medium and longer term. Special attention is paid to the Updated National Employment Strategy of the Republic of Bulgaria (2013–2020) and its potential for positive changes in the labour market policy and labour mobility.

Keywords: vocational training; educational policy; labour market changes

Higher Education as a Heterogeneous Good:Vertical Education-Job Mismatch among Graduates

Petya Ilieva-Trichkova, Pepka Boyadjieva

Abstract: The article aims to explore the social embeddedness of the labour market misbalances for highly educated people, using Bulgaria as a case study. It argues that the labour market misbalances for highly educated people mirror structural problems in the economy and the educational system. These misbalances represent a way for fighting against unemployment, but this comes at a certain “price”. The adopted theoretical approach to graduate employability highlights its two sides, the individual’s and the socio-structural aspects. The analysis is based on data from the Bulgarian Universities Ranking System and the National Social Security Institute and uses descriptive statistics and multilevel modelling. The study reveals that the level of vertical education-job mismatch depends on profiles of higher education institutions and professional fields. It also differs significantly by gender, year of graduation and educational degree. The article shows that under conditions of its massification and diversification, higher education increasingly functions as a positional and heterogeneous good.

Keywords: vertical education-job mismatch; higher education; unemployment; heterogeneous good

Employment and Poverty in Bulgarian Rural Areas

Kamelia Petkova, Mariana Draganova, Rumiana Jeleva

Abstract:The article deals with the problem of employment and poverty in Bulgarian rural areas. The emphases of the discussion are on the slow pace of creation of new employment there, the lack of stable and long-lasting employment in villages and small towns, which results in lower employment rates and hence, greater risk of poverty. Moreover, there has been a significant decrease of the employment rate among young people aged up to 24 years and of elderly people aged 60 and over. The authors discuss how this negative trend, designated as ‘stable’ by the official statistics, could be overcome. The first part of the article is focused on the concepts used in poverty research and the methodology of the study; the second part analyses specific indicators of the employment situation in rural regions. In the last part of the article, the authors present generalized characteristics of poverty in Bulgarian rural areas.

Keywords: poverty; employment, unemployment; rural areas


Part II: Innovations and Perspectives

Strategies to Improve Labour Market Integration of Young People: Policy Coordination in Youth Guarantee Introduction and Implementation

Lyuba Spasova

Abstract: Following van Berkel’s distinction between substantial and procedural reforms, the article analyses the governance changes in the strategies for improving labour market integration of young people – changes involving vertical and horizontal coordination in the context of the introduction and implementation of the Youth Guarantee initiative in Bulgaria.The empirical analysis is based on critical revision of secondary country-based literature, official documents, existing national policy/programme evaluations and statistics, and expert interviews with key officials from agencies involved in the implementation of the Youth Guarantee in Bulgaria. The article outlines the main changes in vertical and horizontal coordination and further suggests possibilities for development and recommendations for policies.

Keywords: youth labour market; Youth Guarantee; policy coordination; procedural reforms

Dual Education and the Labour Market

Rumiana Jeleva

Abstract: In this article, we outline the role played by dual education for achieving greater labour market relevance of higher education. The analysis is focused on the German model of dual education and more specifically on the relevant practice and experience of the German province of Baden Württemberg. We aim to explore the conditions – both internal and external – under which this system of connectivity between university studies and professional practice at a company can significantly contribute to increasing young people’s chances to find better professional realization on the labour market. The paper analyses the contemporary model of labour market relevance of higher education in Bulgaria and outlines some practical recommendations for changes that should be made in the legal, institutional and regional frameworks.

Keywords: dual education; higher education; labour market; project development

Fostering Sustainable Innovations and Entrepreneurship through Strategic Niche Management:The Bulgarian Case in Higher Education

Martin J. Ivanov

Abstract: The Strategic Niche Management (SNM) approach has proved to be a useful research tool during the last 20 years. The efforts of the scientific community now are to improve it as a policy, and a practitioners’ tool, for overcoming incremental change (learning by doing) in the field of sustainable entrepreneurship. This article, based on a case study of three sample Bulgarian universities (Ruse, Svishtov and Plovdiv), reveals some shortcomings in its application to Bulgarian higher education and proposes six pre-requisites for its practical introduction. At the same time, the SNM approach has helped identify promising technologies and potentials for the development of sustainable entrepreneurship niches. At the University of Ruse, one such technology could be the development of electric mobility (various electric vehicles including drones). Another option could be use and management of waste and recycling at the Academy of Economics, Svishtov. At the University of Food Technologies, Plovdiv, the option could be organic food production and marketing.
Keywords: strategic niche management; sustainable entrepreneurship; higher education

Organic Entrepreneurship as an Opportunity for Labour Market Development in Bulgarian Rural Areas

Dona Pickard

Abstract: The article presents the organic food production sector in Bulgaria as a potential factor for labour market development in rural areas. The author reviews the sector’s strengths and the opportunities it offers for developing sustainable and high-quality jobs in rural regions, and also presents the weaknesses hindering the achievement of that goal. Based on national and European statistical data, as well as on results from two sociological studies on the sector, the text concludes that although Bulgaria has excellent possibilities for developing local rural economies through organic farming practices, there is still a set of structural and policy challenges that need to be met before the sector might unfold its full potential to develop the local economies and labour market in rural regions

Keywords: organic farming; rural development; labour market


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