Inactive citizens are biggest reserve on Bulgaria’s labor market

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Bulgaria’s labor market has big unused potential- over 200,000 inactive citizens, this country’s Deputy Minister of Labor and Social Policies Lazar Lazarov recently said at a conference dedicated to the effect of the employment policies in Bulgaria. Next year, one of the main priorities of the Bulgarian government will be to activate this huge group of people and ensure higher employment among the people with disabilities, Deputy Minister Lazarov specified. The Bulgarian economy has to activate and use the potential of the inactive Bulgarians who neither work, nor study, because the number of unemployed people registered in the employment offices is too low-nearly 5%. In some districts such as Sofia the unemployment is even lower – only 2% -2.5%. The unrealistic expectations of the young Bulgarians about the cost of labor influences their inclusion in the labor market, the economics researcher from the Institute for Market Economics Adrian Nikolov told Radio Bulgaria and added:

There are no nationally represented surveys assessing the expectations of the young people. That is why we asked the local labor agencies and employers. In their view, most young people show unrealistic expectations about their salaries in their first job which does not correspond with their level of competence and skills. Of course, this is only one of the factors that keep young people out of the labor market. We should mention the inadequacy of the labor market to their abilities. Some people graduate from university or professional high school, but later they have difficulties finding an adequate job that corresponds to their education and the competence they acquired. Other people work seasonal jobs abroad and when they return to Bulgaria, they live on the money they earned abroad. This is one of the problems our statistics has been facing, because such phenomena cannot be registered that easy.

We asked Adrian Nikolov what else the Bulgarian authorities should do to improve the inclusion of the young people in the labor market in terms of qualification and re-qualification?

The persons who remain entirely out of the labor market or the educational system are predominantly people from the ethnic minorities, women and people who live in remote areas. Several programmes already achieved positive results. In some Bulgarian districts, there are the so-called Roma mediators who have demonstrated their ability to activate young Roma and help them find jobs. However, the scope of these programmes is still small and few people work on them. Another huge problem in this field is the lack of subsidized education, because some of the programmes are directed to subsidized employment, but they do not help people build fundamental skills necessary for their requalification. A large group, which traditionally remains out of the labor market, is the group of the people with disabilities, because most job positions are not suitable for them. The authorities should work more towards a more active inclusion of these people on the labor market.

The national and the European employment programmes are mainly directed towards people aged between 25 and 29 who benefit the most from such policies and measures. According to the Institute for Market Economics, however, the profile of the people aged between 30 and 34 is very similar to the group of the younger Bulgarians (25-29 years). That is why the dialogue about the employment policies on national and European level in the near future should include this age bracket (30-34) as well. The demographic problem is another factor that influences strongly the labor market, which is proved by the fact that the companies are now keeping their employees for a longer period. Many of them are hiring pensioners or people who are to go in pension soon. If the demographic trends no not reverse soon, the Bulgarian employers will have big difficulties finding suitable personnel. In this case, the Bulgarian authorities will have two options: to increase sharply retirement age, or ensure higher mechanization, which, however, can be achieved in some sectors only, the economics researcher from the Institute for Marker Economics contends.

English version: Kostadin Atanasov


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