On Wednesday September 18th 2019 the final national event of the ENLIVEN project in Bulgaria was organised. It took place at the Professional High School of Mechanics and Technics “General Ivan Bachvarov” in Sevlievo. The event took the form of a discussion with the management and high school teachers, students in dual form of education, leaders, trade union representatives and young workers from one of the most prosperous companies in the city “Ideal Standard – Vidima”. The latter is engaged and provides workplace for dual education. The venue and the audience of the event were not chosen by chance. It was because the high school has many years of experience in vocational education in the country.
The meeting started with a brief presentation of the Institute for the Study of Societies and Knowledge at the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences, the directions of its research activity and its priorities. It was made by Gabriela Yordanova. Afterwards, Vassil Kirov presented the ENLIVEN project, the work during the period of its implementation (October 2016 – September 2019), focusing in more detail on the case studies carried out within the project. He paid also special attention on the problems of mentoring of new entrants.
The high school leaders expressed their commitment and support of the dual form of education, which is relatively recent for Bulgaria. They also emphasised the good cooperation in this regard with all companies in the town. At the same time, interesting observations and critical comparisons were made with dual education in Austria and Germany, where things are much better institutionally and methodically organised. The representatives of the company expressed genuine concern for the professional development of the young people in the region. In fact, 78 students were practicing in its two factories in the summer. Practice was also offered for students from Bulgarian and foreign universities. The students were carefully monitored during the whole process of their training. They were also offered technical assistance when preparing a design or developing thesis works. Furthermore, they were contacted regularly to ensure that they get motivated and encouraged to complete the chosen level of education to take up a job in the company.
The students themselves expressed their very good impressions from the experience obtained in the company. They said that they were welcomed in the company and the mentors appointed as well as the more experienced employees tried to show them the interesting and attractive sides of the profession. In the informal conversations made with them after the discussion, they sincerely shared that they had unforgettable impressions – they met young workers, from whom they received valuable advices on the profession, as well as the theoretical and practical training required for the work in the company. Moreover, some of their new acquaintances were graduates from the same school. This natural continuity allows them to more clearly and concretely see their possible future professional trajectory.
During the meeting were made valuable proposals regarding the place and role of the state, and how to improve policies and practices in the field of dual education and workplace learning. These proposals were mainly towards faster and more specific legislation and regulations, more deliberate and balanced regulation of the education and work processes, careful preparation of special programs in particular subjects with regard to the requirements of the specific production and other alike.