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Social package to encourage expats living in EU to return to Bulgaria

Photo: library

Over the past 30 years of democratic changes many people of talent and skills have emigrated from Bulgaria in search of a better future.

According to National Statistical Institute data 27,708 went to seek their fortunes in other countries in 2010. In 2011 they were followed by only 9,517. From that time on the number of people emigrating from Bulgaria has seen a steady rise, to reach 33,225 in 2018. And even though the number of people who return to the country has also been going up – from от 3,518 in2010 to29,559 in 2018, the population decline has continued.

The people emigrating from Bulgaria are mostly of active age – 20 to 45. At the same time a ManpowerGroup survey indicates that 62 percent of employers in Bulgaria are experiencing staff shortages.

Most Bulgarians choose to go abroad for economic reasons. To stop this process more jobs need to be created with European standard salaries. If they have a normal standard of living most of them would not look for other options, says Maria Samichkova Belcher who lives in the US in an interview for Radio Bulgaria.

In view of this the Ministry of Labour and Social Policy undertook the initiative, by means of job fairs in countries where there are large Bulgarian communities, as well as social packages, to encourage young Bulgarians to come back to the country of their birth.

Radio Bulgaria asked the Ministry of Labour and Social Policy which Bulgarian communities in other countries the initiative is targeted at, when it is to be launched and what the social package includes. Here are the answers:

The implementation of the new component is expected to start at the beginning of April 2020 and to continue until the end of 2023. It will offer services such as access to the labour market for persons from the EU applying for a job in Bulgaria. The support will include consulting, drafting of an individual plan of action depending on the individual needs and abilities of the applicant. Applicants will be entitled to assistance to pay rent for a period of 12 months if they start work in a town or village where they do not own accommodation. If upon the family’s return to Bulgaria, the child is not attending nursery or kindergarten, they can be provided a babysitter. Family members who do not speak Bulgarian will be entitled to vouchers for Bulgarian language training to help their integration. The applicants for jobs in Bulgaria could also receive transport incentives to and from work. If the applicants begin work in a region where the average gross monthly salary is lower than the average gross monthly salary for the country, they will receive a monthly sum equal to half of the gross minimal monthly salary for the respective year for a period of 12 months. The initiative also envisages services to help raise awareness, motivate and direct applicants towards the option of becoming self-employed. The project is open to job applicants up to the age of 54 with university degrees who have been employed, self-employed and/or have received unemployment allowance in another country over the past 6 months, as well as to freshly graduated persons in another country.

Who falls within the scope of the social package – only Bulgarians from the EU or does it also include expats living in third countries, only citizens of Bulgaria or ethnic Bulgarian minorities?

The operation is targeted at Bulgarian citizens and persons from EU member countries. Parallel with the preparations for the implementation of this project, the Ministry of Labour and Social Policy will continue to organize job fairs, throughout 2020 for Bulgarians in the countries of Europe with the highest percentage of Bulgarians who are studying or have graduated there. The first event under this initiative was on 21 January in Vienna. Until the end of 2020 the Ministry of Labour and Social Policy is planning to hold job fairs in London, UK (7 March), Cologne, Germany (25 April), Munich, Germany (16 May), Vienna, Austria (17 October). At every fair 20 to 35 major companies operating in all spheres of the economy presented job opportunities in Bulgaria. All surveys conducted among the participants in the forums showed that a considerable number of the young people in attendance feel motivated to begin or to continue their careers in Bulgaria and have found attractive jobs for their future career development.

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