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There is not existing stayalone strategy on youth work. Youth work is legally established under the National youth Strategy 2010-2020 and the Youth Act. Both of the legislative documents are under the scope of the Ministry of youth and sports. In the text of the National Youth Strategy, youth workers are defined as a “necessary resource for implementation of the strategy. These are the specialists, prepared to support the personal, social and economic development and stimulating the young people to fully participate in the society, in a way appropriate for their age. They (the youth workers) fulfil the duties of professional consultants for the young people, responding their needs and interests and are present at youth, therapeutic and consulting centres, schools, helping by providing advice and directing the youngsters to solve various issues. The role of youth workers is particularly important for assuring special support for personal, social and economic development and empowerment of young people in order to assure their full participation in society, in accordance with their age.” Since 2015, “youth worker” is included in the Official List of the Professions in Bulgaria. It is therefore an official profession and labour contracts for this position can be signed by employees. This is a very important step, as those youth workers who are employed and get paid for this job usually have the position of “project co-ordinator” or “specialist/expert”. These are the categories of youth work providers. In addition, there are activities undertaken by the National Youth Forum (an umbrella organisation of youth organisations in Bulgaria) in order to make the profession of youth worker more recognised, both by the government and society. One example of this, the seventh annual National Meeting of the Youth Organisations in Bulgaria, which took place in Varna from 24 to 28 June 2015, was dedicated to this matter (youth work and youth workers). There was even a Facebook campaign “I am a Youth Worker” – youth workers from all over Bulgaria were invited to upload a photo of themselves on the official Facebook page of the event, so they could show who youth workers are and where they work. In Bulgaria there are four International Youth centres established under the inittitive of the Norwegian fund and the Council of Europe.Together the four centres created a National Network of Youth Centres in October 2016 by signing a co-operation agreement between the managers of the four Bulgarian youth centres – Vratsa, Dobrich, Plovdiv and Stara Zagora. The main goal of the network is to advocate for the recognition of youth work at national level and to work towards common quality standards. The four centres are employing youth workers. Their target is the general youth group including young people with fewer opportunities, young migrants and refugees, young people at risk of exclusion.
The main sources of public funding is from the budget of the Ministry of Youth and sprots trhough theThe National Youth Programme (2016-2020). It is one of the tools used to implement the priorities of national policies for young people. It is based on the needs of young people in the country and is in line with the priorities of European youth policy. The programme fulfils the objectives of the National Youth Strategy (2010- 2020). It focuses on the acquisition of key competences and integration of young people into the labour market by developing their personal and professional potential through non-formal training and counselling. The National Youth Programme (2016-2020) was designed on the basis of the conclusions and recommendations of the evaluation of the previous National Youth Programme (2011-2015) and the results of studies and analyses of the state and needs of young people in the country. In the evaluation of the previous programming period, measurable indicators to determine the concrete results of the current programme have been identified and examined. The duration of the current programming period is five years – from 2016 to 2020. The necessary funds for the implementation of the programme during the programming period (2016-2020) shall be provided within the framework of the ministry budget for the respective year and according to the spending ceilings in the three-year budget forecast. The national co-ordinator for the programme is the Ministry of Youth and Sports. The national co-ordinator shall approve the conditions for the drafting of project proposals under the programme, including the requirements of the applicant organisations and the projects they submit. The main vision of the programme is to improve the quality of life for young people by creating and implementing sustainable mechanisms for investing in youth as a significant social capital that contributes to the socio-economic development of Bulgaria as a member of the European Union.
The National Youth Programme is divided into two sub-programmes:
Sub-programme 1: Development of a network of youth information and consultancy centres Since 2007, the work of these centres is entirely focused on the young generation of Bulgaria, providing free services based on non-formal education, including information services, consultancy services and training programmes. Their activities over the last 12 years have not undergone any significant change. In order to adapt to the changing needs of youth, the Ministry of Youth and Sports is looking for new methods and ways to improve their work.
Sub-programme 2: national youth initiatives and campaigns Sub-programme 2 focuses on funding the implementation of project proposals by non-governmental organisations working in the youth field as well as by informal youth groups in six thematic areas covering main directions for promoting civic positioning and participation in campaigns and initiatives of young people and youth workers in Bulgaria. There are 5 thematic areas. One of them is
Thematic area 2 – Development and recognition of youth work.
The procedure for the evaluation of project proposals includes the following stages.
• Stage 1 – Administrative compliance
• Stage 2 – Qualitative assessment
• Stage 3 – Financial compliance
• Stage 4 – Ranking of project proposals.
The conditions for youth work providers for this programs is to be established as NGO working with young people. The described framewokr are inditifying the budget.
The national authorities have not established or promoted frameworks of cooperation between all youth work stakeholders such as civil society organisations active in the field of youth work, public services dedicated to young people, youth workers and practitioners in the youth field and researchers and experts in the field of youth work and private organisations and social enterprises.