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 the career motivation of Bulgarian students (2007) and the 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 the Development of the Ranking System of Bulgarian Higher Education, Enhancing the skills and qualifications of university professors and pedagogical advisors, Student apprenticeships, etc. The project NELLII – Network for Effective Life Long Initiatives and Information helped develop the 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 the 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 60 European projects directed at 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 a national and international levels. Member of the European Association for the Education of Adults.
BFE is a member of European Association for the Education of Adults.
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 significant experience in developing strategies, conducting trainings; project management of various successful USAID and EU-funded initiatives. Her background is in Mathematics and Computer Science, PhD in Insurance and Social Security; specialization in Actuary. She has been a Bologna Adviser for Bulgaria and a Chairperson of National Board for Certified Counselors – NBCC Bulgaria since 2007.
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 an international level – by the Macedonian Competitiveness Project, the Armenian initiative for the development of a national strategy on employability, the Georgian workforce development project in health sector, Moldovian Ministry of Education.
Nadezhda Paunova has a Master Degree in Accountancy and Control with post-graduate specialization in Organizational and Labor Psychology. She is a member of the Institute of Internal Auditors in Bulgaria and certified GCDF and MHF counselor. Nadezhda Paunova possesses significant experience in project elaboration and management both in the private and NGO sectors, and has taken part in many successful EU-funded initiatives. Nadezhda has taken part in the training of GCDF trainers in Macedonia and Taiwan.
Natalia Nikolova has a Master’s Degree in Psychology with many specializations and broad practice in the field. Since 2000 she designs and facilitates training in the development of human resources and works for European projects. Certified GCDF and MHF counselor and trainer. Natalia has taken part in the development of many training materials and innovative tools. 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. Natalia Nikolova 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.
Nevena Rakovska has a journalistic background and large professional experience in public communications and conducting of research. She has elaborated numerous articles, manuals, and national reports on lifelong guidance, career development and employability. Nevena Rakovska has worked for USAID and EU-funded projects since 2000. She is a certified counselor and trainer under the Global Career Development Facilitator and Mental Health Facilitator programs.
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’s and a Post-graduate program in career development. She has taken part in the training of GCDF trainers in Macedonia and Taiwan.