The ICT sector and the VET system in Bulgaria are building a sustainable partnership, attracting more and more learners to ICT professions.
As one of the most dynamic and developing sectors, ICT needs highly qualified specialists, equipped with the latest skills and able to operate the latest technologies. This seems to be a challenge for the education system (including VET), as it needs quickly to update relevant curricula, infrastructure, and teachers’ and trainers’ qualifications.
To support the process, the ICT sector has cooperated with the education ministry in offering new models of collaborative work to attract more learners to ICT qualifications. Among the most popular is the national programme Training for IT careers; this offers training to general education learners who are interested in digital technologies, leading to qualification as applied programmer. The programme is offered as additional, extra-curricular training and has theoretical and practical modules. It has been developed by ICT experts and VET professionals, combining best teaching practices, and addresses rapidly changing, labour market skills needs. Training is provided by five specialised training centres; most trainers come from ICT companies. The work-based component takes place in real workplaces. In its third year of implementation, learner interest in the programme is increasing and first graduates are expected in June 2020.
In 2019-20, a new national programme - The IT business teaches – offers new possibilities for schools to involve ICT professionals in teaching. As part of the programme, representatives of ICT companies will deliver seminars on cybersecurity, 3D solutions and other software developments in schools and will also support teacher training. This year, 111 schools and 30 IT companies have already joined the programme.
‘It is extremely important for learners in ICT qualifications to have a direct connection with the sector’, stated the education minister Krasimir Valchev during the information day for the IT business teaches programme at a tech park in Sofia. ‘ICT professionals in the classroom will help learners acquire the necessary competences in this field. The ICT sector is a high income generator and will retain young people in Bulgaria, so we must do everything needed to create enough software professionals’. The minister highlighted how the programme supports practical training.