Employment and Social Entrepreneurship Support Policies for Roma and Refugees in Bulgaria

Download policy paper: employment-and-social-entrepreneurship-support-policies

Bulgaria’s population is aging and shrinking. Labor Market demands are shifting quickly from low skill to high skill. Twenty percent of Bulgaria’s youth are NEEDS (not in employment or education). Almost 50% of Roma in the country have primary or lower education. On the other hand, continuously growing numbers of refugees, some with unique technical skill sets, will continue to come into the country and need to be integrated into the labor market as well.

Governmental employment policies of occasional job matching and subsidiaries of salaries are insufficient and obsolete. Currently, not enough public spending is earmarked to tackle this problem.

The Biggest Potential for Bulgaria´s Future Economy

Until 2020, 20% of new work force will be of Roma origin. If Bulgaria manages to empower this highly important population share for succeeding in the labor market, it will be a giant leap for its economic development.

Roma and refugees exhibit one of the highest unemployment rates in the country and make up the biggest share in unregistered work. However, employment support measures are harder to access and facilitate for people with Roma origins or refugee status in this country.

So what exactly is the interplay between poverty, employment and economic integration? What needs to be done to equip people with the skills needed in the future? How does Bulgaria plan to address this challenge? How are employment policies developed and how can businesses get involved? How is European funding spend under this priority?

What Does the Government Do and How Should Businesses Get Involved?

The private sector is already facing deficits in work force and will suffer from it even more in the future. Therefore, businesses should not wait for policies to change but actively engage in creating best practices, getting involved in vocational education and finding access to underutilized workforce.

Qualification and re-qualification of Roma people and refugees in order to mobilize their potential for economic participation is one of the most powerful ways to foster integration. What is more, supporting people to become independent from welfare through employment policies and start up support is a very important instrument to facilitate Bulgaria´s social and economic development.

The presented paper delivers the basic information needed to understand the challenges in current and future Bulgarian employment market and outline the policies and public spending dedicated to it. Furthermore, it provides policy recommendations on how to reach untapped work force and to cater to the private sector. This information is essential to understand how the business sector can get involved and what opportunities can be seized in the future.

Stana Iliev