‘First job’ is a national agreement signed by the government and social partners in Bulgaria in September 2012. Related to the initiative schemes have been launched targeting unemployed young people up to age 29; these are funded by the operational programme ‘Human resources development’. Activities include either vocational training or training in key competences, with the aim of increasing participants’ employability on the labour market.

Through the scheme ‘First job’ gives unemployed youth an opportunity to improve their employability through vocational training, and acquire a first and second degree of a professional qualification as well as key competences. Training is financed via a voucher system and the qualification level is set according to the European qualifications framework. Upon completion subsidised employment is provided for a period of up to 12 months. The broad spectrum of training provided allows a wide scope of unemployed youth irrespective of education level and previous qualifications to participate. The initiative will give them an opportunity to become adequately prepared for specific positions on the labour market.

‘Support for Employment’ scheme aims to stimulate companies via subsidised remuneration to invest in knowledge and skills of unemployed young people. Companies will provide training in key competences for the unemployed. Training is provided in situ by a mentor following the approved programme for key competences ‘Skills for learning’.

Another scheme, ‘A new beginning’, will provide opportunities to several young people in internships with an employer under supervision of a mentor. This will increase young people’s competitiveness, ease their transition from training to employment and contribute to accumulation of valuable initial vocational experience.

The scheme ‘Development’ also features unemployed young people up to age 29 as a priority group. It provides vocational training and follow-up employment for a period of up to 12 months.

Investing in development of key skills and vocational training aligned with employers’ needs for young people is unequivocally an effective instrument for solving current and future economic and social problems.