Constellations of Disadvantage and Policy Dilemmas in Youth Transitions from School to Work in Bulgaria

Type Journal Article - Social Work & Society
Title Constellations of Disadvantage and Policy Dilemmas in Youth Transitions from School to Work in Bulgaria
Volume 4
Issue 2
Publication (Day/Month/Year) 2006
Page numbers 308-322
In the past years there has been a growing concern in Europe with the drawbacks in youth
transition from education to employment and social participation more generally (European
Commission (EC) 2001; EC 2005). Bulgaria is among the countries with accumulated
problems in young people’s educational attainment and integration into the labour market.
Having experienced a radical social transformation in the 1990s in the course of which the
centrally planned and state owned economy was replaced by a market oriented one, the
present-day Bulgarian society lags behind the new member states in economic output and
living standards of the population. The liberalisation of social life affected young people
disproportionately hard. With the state withdrawal from active interference in the regulation
of relations among the social groups, young people in particular were cast from the certainty
of the previously firmly structured and strictly controlled transition patterns of the statesocialist
societies into the sea of the risks and uncertainties of market regulated societies
(Kovacheva 2001). What are the key problems in youth school-to-work transition and main
barriers of their sustainable employment integration? What are the dilemmas faced by the
social inclusion policies in the country and the factors for the success and failure of the active
measures in support of youth transitions?
This chapter attempts to provide answers to the above questions based on the outcomes of a
Thematic Study, commissioned by the DG Employment and Social Affairs in 2004 (see
Walther and Pohl, 2005)2
. It draws on the analysis in the Bulgarian national report written as a
part of the Thematic Study and that made use of four main sources of information: statistical
data provided by the Bulgarian National Statistical Institute and Eurostat (The Labour Force
Survey); official documents of the Ministry of Education, Ministry of Labour and Social
Policy, Ministry of Youth and Sports, and Ministry of Finance; research reports and
publications of national and international sociological agencies; and expert consultations,
including a seminar discussion with representatives of the academic community, policy
makers, and stake holders in Bulgaria. The chapter, first, outlines the constellations of
disadvantage in youth passages to adulthood in Bulgaria in a comparative perspective and,
second, explores the main policy approaches in support of disadvantaged youth presenting the
factors of their efficacy.

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