The Business Foundation for Education (BFE) is a Bulgarian non-government organization, established in 2005 to act in public interest. Its mission is to facilitate the development of the civil society through initiatives that enhance human resource competitiveness and contribute to economic development and prosperity. To achieve its goals the Foundation implements variety of initiatives in the fields of lifelong learning and career guidance, employment and social policy, vocational education and training and youth work.
BFE capitalizes the capacity and continues the efforts of the successful USAID Labor Market Project. Its know-how in the field of labor market, career guidance and policy making has been transferred via trainings of trainers and policy experts in Bulgaria, Macedonia, Kosovo, Romania, Hungary, Georgia, Armenia and Taiwan.
BFE is a recognized leader in the field of lifelong learning and career guidance in Bulgaria.
Its initiatives gave a large impetus for the development of the career guidance system in the country and raise the awarenes of all stakeholders and the general public about the benefits of lifelong guidance for all generations. Among BFE major accomplishments are the following capacity building initiatives with major social impact:
1) DEVELOPMENT OF CAREER GUIDANCE IN BULGARIA
BFE represents the National Board for Certified Counselors in Bulgaria – a prominent US based organization for training and credentialing professionals in career guidance and mental health.
Since 2005 BFE has established a large professional network of 37 university career centers and thas rained over 1000 career counselors under the Global Career Development Facilitator (GCDF) program. The initiative enabling access of thousands Bulgarians to career services, offered in more than 600 schools, 37 universities, 28 regional career development centers, 10 youth centres, labor offices and more than 100 private companies, public institutions and NGOs in Bulgaria.
The initiative has huge impact on the developing career guidance profession in Bulgaria:
• 2 major universities incorporated the GCDF course into their master programs in career guidance. The good practice was presented in the CEDEFOP’s report “Professionalizing career guidance” (2009).
• The successful model and methodology of our pilot school Career Clubs and university career centers have been multiplied by the Ministry of education, when establishing a network of 28 regional career centers for pupils.
• In 2012 in partnership with Euroguidance Bulgaria BFE launched the annual national contest for best practices in career guidance in Bulgaria, as well as the “Guidance for Mobility” training program, under which national Ambassadors of Mobility were trained.
2) The NATIONAL INTERNSHIP PROGRAM helped link businesses and higher education institutions in Bulgaria.
• BFE launched the national internship platforms in the State administration and in private organizations; online sources and instruments.
• Our internship methodology was adopted by Bulgarian universities, hundreds of private organizations and state administration and helps thousands of Bulgarian students annually gain a meaningful and recognized work-based experience.
• BFE also initiated 2 major career surveys – the first National study on career motivation of Bulgarian students (2007) and National study on young people’s employability skills (2010).
3) CAPACITY BUILDING INITIATIVES
• BFE experts are involved in many initiatives of the Ministry of Education such as: Development of the Ranking System of Bulgarian Higher Education, Enhancing the skills and qualification of university professors and pedagogical advisors, Students apprenticeships, etc. The project NELLII – Network for Effective Life Long Initiatives and Information helped develop capacity of the structures of the Ministry of Education in the organization of 28 local and 6 regional lifelong learning festivals in Bulgaria, in which more than 600 training providers and more than 28 500 learners took part.
• In 2015 BFE implemented a project for building career guidance capacity of the National Employment Agency. BFE organized 60 career days and 420 seminars, in which more than 430 employers, 220 training providers and 6100 employees and self-employed people took part.
4) INTERNATIONAL COOPERATION
BFE has been involved in more than 30 European projects directed to personal and career development, social inclusion, fostering employability and entrepreneurship, developing and testing innovative training methods and combating youth employment. As a result, the team has developed a profound experience in:
• policy development and support;
• organization of informational and promotional campaigns;
• implementation of researches and analyses;
• elaboration of methodologies and approaches, addressing the needs of various groups in risk (disadvantaged youth, unemployed, low-skilled, seniors, women, people with disabilities);
• training design and delivery;
• project management.
BFE cooperates closely with public institutions, social partners and other stakeholders. The Foundation has established a strong network of guidance practitioners, media partners, employers and proactive training organizations on national and international level. Member of European Association for the Education of Adults.
In August 2015 the Business Foundation for Education celebrated its 10 years anniversary.
The team of Business Foundation for Education combines the experience and expertise in financial and project management, career guidance, psychology, training and public communications, proved in number of successful initiatives.
Gergana Rakovska has been involved as a consultant and project manager in many national initiatives, launched by the Ministry of Education, Ministry of Labor and Social Policy – national internship program, labor market initiatives, qualification of university professors, development of national rating system in the higher education, etc. Her experience and knowledge in policy development have been utilized also on international level – by the Macedonian Competitiveness Project, the Armenian initiative for development of a national strategy on employability, the Georgian workforce development project in health sector, Moldovian Ministry of Education.
As a Master trainer under the Global Career Development Facilitator (GCDF) program, she has taken part in the development of training curriculum for career guidance practitioners in Bulgaria and contributed for the upgrade of the GCDF Train-the-Trainer Manual in 2009. Nevena is involved as a trainer in the GCDF course offered by Sofia University under a Master and a Post-graduate program in career development. She has taken part in the training of GCDF trainers in Macedonia and Taiwan.