Dual education has appositive impact on vocational education development in Bulgaria – this is the key conclusion from the survey among vocational schools and companies commissioned by the DOMINO Project. Schools and companies are committed to continue participating in dual education, as well as to collaborate in the future. Despite positive results dual education in Bulgaria still faces numerous difficulties and obstacles for both, business and schools. These challenges are elements of a larger concern about the development of vocational education in Bulgaria.
The survey conducted by Gallup International consists of quantitative research (June-July 2019) among 104 companies and 31 schools under the DOMINO Project and 502 companies and 153 schools not participating in DOMINO and also four focus groups with students from vocational schools and their parents. The survey was carried out with the financial support of the Bulgarian-Swiss Cooperation Programme at the end of the DOMINO Project. Under DOMINO nearly 1,600 students from 32 vocational schools across the country in 19 cities are learning in dual method (studying through working) in 12 professional occupations and gain working experience in more than 170 Bulgarian and foreign companies. The project supports Bulgaria in developing its model of dual education based on the experience of Switzerland, one the world’s countries with the lowest level of youth unemployment. The long Bulgarian traditions in vocational education are also helpful in the process of implementing the dual educational method.
Collaboration at local level in the development of dual education is perceived positive by both, business and vocational schools. The DOMINO participants share large scales of satisfaction from the employers (students) and educational system at a local level: 61% of the companies and 84% of the schools assess the cooperation between them as “very good”.
A positive trend for the development of dual education is also seen in terms of willingness of the business to allocate staff for elaborating a curriculum that will match the needs of the business and contribute in qualified labour training. More than half of the DOMINO companies are clearly positive to allocate members of their teams, while the non-DOMINO companies look rather reluctant: nearly one third are not willing to allocate staff in order to elaborate new curricula. This speaks for a rather large levels mistrust among the companies without experience with dual education and the need of a vast awareness campaign about its benefits for the business.
According to the business and the schools, the biggest difficulty is the concern of the companies about their investment in labour without any guarantees that the students will remain working for them after graduation. 73% of the DOMINO companies share such concerns. The loopholes in vocational education are also a problem. 57% of the business and also many of the students from the focus groups report about vast gaps between what is taught in schools and the required knowledge and skills when it comes to work in real environment. The outcome of the survey shows that the theory taught in school is rather obsolete and not adequate to the modern requirements of the business. The students who have taken part in the survey confirm this conclusion: the practical activities are lagging behind, with lack of tome for such classes, as well as adequate facilities and lecturers.
Finding a sufficient number of companies in order to form a dual class seems to be the biggest challenge for vocational schools: 44% say that this is the biggest problem for them. More than the half of the schools’ representatives (56%) say that the demographic crisis is the major problem causing the deficits of dual education.
More than half of the school representatives (56%) share the opinion that the demographic crisis is the main explanation for the deficits in vocational education followed by lack of trust in the perspectives of dual education and the unattractive image of the vocational schools in the country.
The interference of the state with all kind of measures for supporting the development of dual education – smoothen the administrative procedures, information campaigns and legislative amendments – is perceived as the main prerequisite for overcoming the negative trends in the perceptions of vocational education. More thorough collaboration between business and education at a local and national level has a large support (52%) among the representatives of the education system as one of the most effective tools for solving the lack of trained labour power.
See here the survey’s report