Bulgaria has implemented significant reforms in its vocational education and training (VET) system over the past decade. Changes have been introduced to diversify VET provision and to make it more responsive to employer demand. Despite these efforts, Bulgaria still faces important challenges in ensuring that greater numbers of learners successfully complete vocational education programmes that are relevant to labour market needs across the country. This focused OECD review of the governance and funding of VET assesses strengths and challenges of VET provision in Bulgaria and suggests policy recommendations on how to address them. With Bulgaria engaged in an ongoing reform programme, this report aims to complement work undertaken by national authorities by drawing on international evidence.

Chapter 1 gives an overview of the study and the OECD’s approach to VET reviews. It further provides a snapshot of the Bulgarian VET system and presents key data, before assessing strengths of the system and summarising the challenges identified in the report.

Chapter 2 focuses on the governance of the VET system in Bulgaria. It first sets out the importance of the governance of education policy, highlighting the distinctive complexity of VET provision that must respond to patterns of employer demand. The effective governance of VET recognises both the horizontal sharing of responsibilities between government ministries and agencies and the need for vertical engagement, from the national to the local level. Across all decision-making points, it is essential that consideration is given to the inclusion of social partners (employers and trade unions) in defining the right policies and their implementation. The chapter identifies four main challenges linked to: decision-making and capacity; the use of data and evidence to inform policy decisions; social partner engagement; and, the steering of adult VET learning provision. It further makes policy recommendations based on international evidence and experiences from other OECD countries.

Chapter 3 discusses the funding of VET in Bulgaria. It first sets out the importance of funding arrangements as tools to achieve high quality provision, and describes key aspects with which funding arrangements should try to comply. Effective funding mechanisms underpin efficient, effective and equitable VET. The chapter assesses the challenges presented by current Bulgarian funding arrangements. These are linked to a comparatively low level of funding for VET, as well as a low involvement of firms in upper secondary VET. School level financial autonomy is low as is the capacity of schools to act upon any increased flexibility. The chapter argues that there is potential to strengthen collaboration between schools and employers to achieve increased cost sharing between the government and employers. The chapter concludes by addressing the question of equity in Bulgarian VET and the opportunity of funding formulas to help tackle significant patterns of disadvantage.

This report was drafted by Benedicte Bergseng from the OECD Centre for Skills. Pauline Musset prepared the early stages of this work. Elisa Larrakoetxea, Jennifer Cannon and Charity Kome provided valuable administrative support.

The OECD would like to thank colleagues in Bulgaria for their constructive engagement in the study, especially Maria Todorova and Vanya Tividosheva at the Bulgarian Ministry of Education and Science. Bulgarian colleagues drafted a background report, organised a visit to Sofia and provided feedback on drafts. The OECD also wants to thank the many stakeholders in Bulgaria who shared their experiences and perceptions of strengths and challenges of vocational education and training. The OECD wants to thank the European Commission for their support, in particular Mantas Sekmokas and the many colleagues who provided valuable comments on drafts.

Within the OECD, Anthony Mann oversaw the preparation of this report as Head of the VET and Adult Learning team within the OECD Centre for Skills. Shinyoung Jeon, Viktoria Kis and Pauline Musset within the VET and Adult Learning team and Stefano Piano from the National Skills Strategy team also provided valuable comments and advice. The project benefited considerably from the support of Cécile Bily within the OECD Directorate for Education and Skills. Support throughout the project was received from Montserrat Gomendio as Head of the Centre for Skills, Dirk van Damme as Head of the Skills beyond School division in the Directorate for Education and Skills, Andreas Schleicher Director of the Directorate for Education and Skills, and Stefano Scarpetta, Director of the Directorate for Employment, Labour and Social Affairs.

The report was co-funded by the European Union and the Bulgarian Ministry of Education and Science. The opinions expressed and arguments employed herein do not necessarily reflect the official views of the European Union or of the OECD member countries.

End of the section – Back to iLibrary publication page