Digital Skills Development Project

Final Press conference on the project implemented by BICA - "Development of digital skills"
The introduction of micro-credentials and Individual Learning Accounts are key to increasing Digital knowledge and skills
"Digital transformation is a global reality shaping the way organizations and people interact and work in the future. This year alone, digital transformation spending will reach $2.3 trillion globally – providing a workforce with the necessary digital skills is a serious challenge. Building human, scientific, organizational and institutional capacity for development in these conditions, Bulgaria can provide mainly by investing in increasing digital skills. This can be done in two main ways – either as part of the learning process or effectively through the concept of lifelong learning and adult skills development. Unfortunately, only 50 percent of employers realize the need for training and development of the digital skills of their employees. Our mission is to change this together – and very quickly!” - stated Dr. Milena Angelova - General Secretary of the Bulgarian Industrial Capital Association (BICA) and head of project BG05M9OP001-1.128-0004 "Development of digital skills" during the final Press conference to report on its implementation.

The event was honored by the Deputy Minister of Labor and Social Policy Nataliya Efremova, the executive director of the Employment Agency Polina Marinova, the chairperson of NAVET Mariyana Pavlova, the vice-president of CL "Podkrepa" Ioannis Parteniotis, the vice-president of CITUB Luboslav Kostov and the head of the governing body of HRD Tsvetan Spasov.
The results of the successful implementation of the "Digital Skills Development" project address the growing need for digital skills and promote the acceleration of the digital transformation of the Bulgarian economy. For this purpose, 65 unified profiles of digital skills and 13 sectoral qualification frameworks have been developed and adopted. The project also achieved two very important results, which made Bulgaria the first country to put into practice the Council's recommendations on micro-credentials and individual learning accounts.
The models developed on this topic received wide-ranging support from labor market institutions and social partners. They were presented in Brussels during the training of the member states on the implementation of the individual training accounts and also formed the basis of an ESS opinion with specific guidelines for the institutions and the government.
BICA has a long successful experience in developing and providing innovative models and tools through the implementation of various projects. For more than a quarter of a century, the association has often been ahead of global trends thanks to its in-depth analyses. For example, in 2018 AIKB developed a Rating of the attractiveness of professions and a special platform for the calculation. Such innovative models have the potential to improve various policies and measures for employment and education. Bulgaria is at a unique moment with access to funding from both the European Shared Management Funds and the Recovery and Resilience Plan. These resources represent an exceptional opportunity to invest in activities that are critical to workforce development and empowering Bulgarian businesses to rapidly adapt to the green transition and digital transformation of the economy. BICA firmly believes that social partners with their flexible and innovative approaches can significantly contribute to the creation and implementation of quality projects.
"Skills are the key that will lead us not just to a successful professional realization and development of our society as a whole, as well as to a successful passage through the digital and green transition. By 2030, 80% of Europe's population is expected to have basic digital skills. In 2023, in our country, these people will be only 30%, and already almost 90% of the jobs in Bulgaria require the presence of such skills. This is exactly why the projects of AIKB and other social partners are extremely important. They are part of the bigger puzzle that we are working together to create an ecosystem for a successful digital transition and the preparation of people for it," said Natalia Efremova - Deputy Minister of Labor and Social Policy.

"We have already signed the contract for the modernization of vocational education and training, so there will be a new list of occupations and you as employers will be part of its development. I hope we can make a list that will be adapted and adequate to the labor market. We will also work to ensure that the qualification frameworks you developed in the project are used in the new education standards. They will be in a new format, they will have a new vision, so that digital skills are included in the state standards", added Eng. Mariyana Pavlova - chairman of the National Agency for Vocational Education and Training.
According to the executive director of the Employment Agency, lifelong learning should become a philosophy not only for employers, but also for state institutions. She also emphasized the importance of strengthening the promotion and improving the attractiveness of the professions.
According to Tsvetan Spasov, the head of the Management Board of the OPRCHR, we should not talk about a digital transition, but about the transformation of our economy. Studies show that today's first-graders will eventually work in occupations that don't yet exist, which should further show us that without digital skills, we won't be ready for the future.
The proportion of people with basic digital skills is 29%, while the EU average is 58%. Studies show that countries that are ready to make a rapid technological transformation and use digital technologies in their daily practice are those that also have an extremely strong performance in the field of education and training. Already in 2019, the EC warned that due to the growing skills shortage, significant investments in digital literacy, skills and knowledge will be needed in Bulgaria. The Association considers the implementation of the current project as a step forward in this direction, remaining committed to the development of the digital skills program. In the coming years, AIKB has the ambition to build on the achieved results by developing new tools to increase the attractiveness of professions and human resources development, in order to continue contributing to the sustainable growth and competitiveness of the Bulgarian economy and workforce.

For more information you can see the project Presentation of Dr. Milena Angelova - Secretary General of BICA and Head of the project.

Online testing of digital skills
An online tool for testing digital skills was developed under the "Development of Digital Skills" project, implemented by BICA. If you want to check your current level and learn more about what you should upgrade next, click this link.
Short-term training courses with focused content and hands-on experience
can provide a quick response to the need for qualified labor
On November 25, 2022, at 2:00 p.m., a Round table was held at the Bulgarian Industrial Capital Association for presenting and discussion of a pilot System for micro-certificates under the project BG05M9OP001-1.128-0004 "Development of digital skills".
"In response to the challenges of the labor market caused by the shortage of qualified labor and skills, within the framework of the project implemented by BICA, a pilot system for the introduction of micro-certificates was developed in compliance with the main principles in the adopted in June 2022. Council Recommendation on a European approach to micro-credentials. Flexibility and quick response to the needs of employers are among the main advantages of micro-credentials, but more work needs to be done to build trust between all participants in this process, and social partners should find their key place in implementing the recommendation. That is why the BICA is the first organization that directly raises the topic of introducing this new instrument in Bulgaria and expects to reach a consensus among all interested partners", emphasized Dr. Milena Angelova, secretary general of the AIKB and project manager BG05M9OP001-1.128- 0004 "Development of digital skills" at the opening of the round table.
BICA closely and actively monitors the processes in the systems of education and training for adults. The organization supports any policy or new instrument that can lead to an increase in the competences of the workforce and help to increase the competitiveness of the Bulgarian economy.
During the roundtable, a broad public discussion on the topic began, with the representatives of the main interested institutions present, provoked to present their vision of the possible ways of implementing micro-credentials.
"I am extremely grateful for the analyzes and proposals for changes in the regulatory framework provided by BICA", emphasized Deputy Minister of Labor and Social Policy Nataliya Efremova during the discussion, which was attended by representatives of the state administration, branch and civil organizations, employers and employed persons .
For more information, see the press release from the event Here.

Introducing a pilot MicroCredentials System
On November 25, 2022, at 2:00 p.m., the Bulgarian Industrial Capital Association will hold a Round table for the presentation and discussion of a pilot System for micro-credentials under the project BG05M9OP001-1.128-0004 "Development of digital skills".

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