While other European Union (EU) Member States see vocational education and training (VET) as inferior to general education, many Bulgarians consider it a quicker route to a good job, according to an opinion survey on VET carried out by Cedefop.

Around 51% of upper-secondary students in Bulgaria follow vocational programmes, compared to 46% in Germany and 49% in the EU as a whole. Most choose VET on the advice of family and friends and because they think that it provides the best chance of finding a job. The survey found that VET participants are more likely than those who followed general education to say that their course helped them to develop communication skills, the ability to work with others and sense of initiative and entrepreneurship.

Evidence from the survey is that VET participants find a job quicker. Around 50% of VET participants found a job either before or within a month of completing their studies compared to 40% of general education participants. Some 61% of survey respondents also agreed that VET leads to well-paid jobs.

Government policies to make VET an attractive learning option may be having an effect. In contrast with the majority of Member States (see Table above), Bulgarians do not think of VET as a ‘second category’ education for students with low grades. Some 72% of VET participants surveyed said that they would recommend vocational education to a young person; only 25% of general education participants would recommend general education. Some 94% of Bulgarian upper-secondary VET participants also said that, overall, they were totally satisfied with the quality of teaching they received, the general and work-related skills they acquired and the equipment available. This is well above the EU average of 87% and the second highest in the EU behind Malta’s 96%.

However, there is more work to do. The survey found that 65% think that the Bulgarian government should prioritise investment in VET over investment in general education. Consideration is being given to increasing work-based learning in upper-secondary VET in Bulgaria and to developing VET curricula based on learning outcomes (what someone can do at the end of any type of learning experience, not just in school).

Bulgaria has made progress in breaking down the unfair stereotypes often linked to VET and making it an attractive learning option. An experience other Member States could learn from.

Notes to editors:

Cedefop’s opinion survey, published in 2017, provides new insights in what Europeans think of vocational education and training, its ability to give people the right skills and to help VET graduates find a job. The survey aims to inform policies to make VET a more attractive and effective learning option. It was conducted in June 2016 and examined EU citizens’ awareness and opinions on VET’s attractiveness and effectiveness and personal experiences of VET at upper secondary level (typically age 16-18). The survey comprised more than 35 000 interviews of a representative sample of Europeans across all Member States.