New working place 2015
2015 - present
The instrument encourages real-sectors' employers to create sustainable jobs for unemployed and inactive people of all ages, including VET for hired persons on a specific working place, aiming to integrate some of the most vulnerable groups into the labour market. The scheme is aimed at contributing to the achievement of the Europe 2020 National targets in the fields of employment and the fight against poverty and social exclusion.
The aim is to address the following problems: persisting downward trend in the number of economically active people in recent years reduced employment rate of the population aged 20-64 years; and increased unemployment rate. The key priorities of the National Reform Programme (2012-2020), of which the HRD OP's specific targets are focused in the area of unemployment and employment, are the fight against unemployment among labour market vulnerable groups, above all youth and long-term unemployed, and also the achievement of higher employment rate among older-age people.
Bulgaria's national targets to the Europe 2020 Strategy are: (1) at least 76% of the 20-64 year olds to be employed by 2020, and (2) reducing the number of people living in poverty by 260,000 by 2020. Attaining these targets is of paramount importance for the vision and strategy of the HRD OP. New working place 2015, as a HRD OP scheme, will contribute to achieving both national targets, i.e. contribute to increasing employment, especially of the most vulnerable groups in the labour market, and thus, to reducing poverty in Bulgaria.
It falls under an overarching programme (HRD OP 2014-2020), which in general aims to raise employability, reduce poverty and promote social inclusion; training and skills matching are means to this end.
Aim of policy instrument
Main responsible body
Ministry of Labour and Social Policy (MLSP is the Managing Authority of the HRD OP 2014-2020 through DG 'European Funds, International Programmes and Projects'). The MLSP is responsible for monitoring and evaluating the HRD OP.
The National Employment Agency (contracting authority in its capacity of Intermediate Body for OP HRD OP): performs governing, coordinating and organisational functions; allocates the necessary funds and controls the implementation.
Regional Employment Services Directorates: coordinating functions at regional level; monitoring and control functions at regional level.
The Monitoring Committee (MC) of the HRD OP, a collective body established on the principle of partnership, which monitors the implementation of the Operational Programme. MC is composed of members with voting right, including representatives of: the managing authorities of the other OPs, the Commission for Protection against Discrimination, specialised directorates within the administration of the Council of Ministers (CoM), the Central Coordination Unit within the administration of the CoM, specialised directorates at the Ministry of Finance, the Secretariat of the National Council for Cooperation on Ethnic and Integration Issues; the National Statistical Institute; the institutions responsible for the policies to be supported under the programme; the National Association of the Municipalities in the Republic of Bulgaria; the Regional councils for the development at NUTS 2 level; the national representative organisations of employers, employees and workers; the national representative organisations of people with disabilities; the academic community; non-governmental sector; and members in advisory capacity.
Total budget of BGN125m (€64m), of which: 85% ESF and 15% national co-financing.
For a single project: minimum size of the subsidy - BGN 50,000 (€25,565); maximum - BGN 391 166 (€200,000).
Employers/SMEs and large companies. Eligible Target groups under this procedure: unemployed and inactive persons, no matter how long they are unemployed/inactive (registration at the Labour Offices is not obligatory for unemployed); and the following specific categories:
- Unemployed with low education (under ISCED 313);
- Long-term unemployed and inactive persons;
- Unemployed or people with disabilities;
- Unemployed persons over 54 years old;
- Unemployed youth up to 29 years.
Use of labour market intelligence
The use of LMSI is limited to the process of determining the priority target group.
Subsidies, based on calls for proposals, are provided to employers to hire unemployed and inactive people of all ages and to train them (for a period of 12 months). A particular focus (50%) is given to priority target group segments. The scheme provides subsidies of 100% to SMEs and 80% to large companies. The funds are for vocational training for attaining qualifications and key competencies; salaries; equipment for the new jobs; reconstruction, if people with disabilities are hired (up to 10% of the direct costs); provision of mentors for people with disabilities, who are employed; costs of purchasing work clothes, personal protective equipment, equipment and furnishings, intangible fixed assets and business inventory, if well-justified (up to 30% of the total project costs). The employer should retain a minimum of 50% the new jobs created for the hired people for at least 12 months after projects end.
Frequency of updates
If needed, the update of the operation, including its budget, could be done with Managing Authority decision, approved by the Monitoring Committee of the HRD OP. Due to the high interest, the budget of the 'New working place 2015' operation was increased (initially planned budget: BGN 40m or about €20.5m).
The approach has not undergone any changes since the start of the scheme. The 'New working place 2015' scheme (under HRD OP 2014-2020) is a kind of continuation of a scheme under HRD OP 2007-2013, with a similar scope of activities (New working place), which has had a more limited target group: unemployed up to the age of 29 and more limited funding (about €9m). The 'New working place 2015' has a broader target group, i.e. unemployed and inactive persons of all ages, but with a mandatory 50% quota on those most vulnerable in the labour market. Reasons for this include: that increased long-term unemployment is a worrying obstacle for the skills supply in the country; and prolonged joblessness tends to be associated with skills atrophy and employer distrust.
No barriers are identified so far (the scheme was opened in 2015, and the first contracts were signed in 2016).
No own co-financing is needed for SMEs (100% subsidy), which results in a strong interest from employers for participation in the scheme.
The Annual Reports on the Implementation of HRD OP provide regular information about the progress of the 'New working place 2015' scheme, including reporting data on the specific outcome and result indicators, as well as on the financial resources spent. For the new programming period, the ISUN 2020 information system for management and monitoring the EU funds in Bulgaria was developed (according to Regulation (EC) No 1303/2013) and applied in Bulgaria, improving the monitoring systems of the OPs (beneficiaries report electronically).
Broad target group to respond to any specific employers' needs, yet with a focus on identified problematic categories of unemployed and inactive people; combination of employment and vocational training, including on-the-job training. As a result, the interest to the scheme is extremely high.
Evidence of effectiveness
The scheme has been operational since 2015. It's too early for impact and effectiveness evaluations. According to the 2016 Report on the Implementation of the HRD OP: 1,077 persons were included in 2016 in 'New working place 2015'; progress was made on all performance indicators, particularly for the 54+ age group; no progress was reported on result indicators due to the late start of activities in 2016; significant increase is expected in 2017, when the result indicators will be reported. Projects are in a phase of implementation (508 contracts with employers signed in 2016), which means that unemployed and inactive persons have benefited with employment over a sustained period of time, and part of them have benefited attainment of qualification as well.
Engagement of stakeholders
The Monitoring Committee of the HRD OP (comprising of different types of stakeholders, including representatives of employers' organisations) holds meetings biannually.
The principle of providing jobs to unemployed and inactive people is quite transferable in itself. The instrument consists solely of subsidy provision; no significant increase of administrative burden is expected. Costs do not seem to pose an obstacle to transferability, if funding is available in other countries too.
At present, it is not clear whether the 'New working place 2015' operation will have further "calls for proposals" in the coming years of the present programming period. Thus, its future is uncertain, as the operation relies heavily on ESF funds (85% of funds).