Junior Achievement Bulgaria's NEETs in Entrepreneurship trainings have started
In February, Junior Achievement (JA) Bulgaria kicked off the first series of trainings on entrepreneurship for NEETs, in partnership with labour bureaus in the cities of Sofia and Vratsa. In the latter, 20 young people took part in a two-day ‘green entrepreneurship’ workshop, focused on career paths and entrepreneurship ventures in renewable energy, eco-tourism and sustainable products. The objective was to inspire participants to develop their own business in the future, such as bio food retail, renewable energy prospecting and sustainable guesthouse ventures. In addition, they were encouraged to participate in the ‘NEETs Start-Up Competition’ in the summer. Mentorship was provided by local healthy food start-up ventures and by Nikola Gazdov, CEO of Renergy, a leading Bulgarian renewable energy company and member of SolarPower Europe association.
“We want to train NEETs with different backgrounds from many Bulgarian cities in time to take part in the first run of our NEETs Start-Up Competition scheduled for the summer” – explains Apostol Dyankov, Project Manager at JA Bulgaria. “We are focusing our entrepreneurship trainings on subjects that provide added value to local communities and unemployed young people alike, including renewable energies, logistics, hospitality, ICT and retail”.
Ahead of the NEETs Start-Up Competition, Bulgarian labour bureaus and VET schools have begun to inform registered NEETs and graduating students about opportunities to start their own business ventures and apply for the competition. JA Bulgaria held their first day preparatory training with a team registered in the Sofia East labour bureau, where the youngsters are considering launching an AI machine learning start-up. During this training, they completed the first stages of their future business model, and were able to talk to business mentors working at ICT companies who develop B2B machine learning applications. Among them Identrics Bulgaria, who will welcome ICT-savvy NEETs in their internship programme.
I was never particularly interested in entrepreneurship. I used to think that you need massive funding to start a company, but this training taught me it is possible to start with very little. I also found out there are many opportunities to start a small green business on your own. It was a very pleasant surprise to have successful local entrepreneurs participating as mentors in the training. – Polina Dimitrova, 23, Vratsa
JA Bulgaria will continue to work with VET schools and labour bureaus in Sofia and across the country, training about 20-40 young people each month. The team plans to train a total of 20 VET teachers on NEETs prevention, using a 30-hours course workbook developed specifically for the project. A first-of-its-kind innovation camp for deaf NEETs will happen in March, in partnership with the Bulgarian Youth Deaf Association MOGA. The activities will be adapted entirely to sign language from the FROG working method, developed by the Norwegian organisation Lyk z & døtre to assist youth who have dropped out of school and work life in finding their inherent qualities and unique abilities.
By 2021, only in Bulgaria the project is expected to have reached 400 NEETs and 1,000 VET students. Internships and job shadowing opportunities will be offered to young people from smaller cities and underprivileged backgrounds, and trainings will be expanded to include Roma and youth with especial needs. While these groups are more likely to experience discrimination in the job market, successful career and entrepreneurship examples can greatly motivate their peers
The NEETs in Entrepreneurship project is funded by Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway through the EEA and Norway Grants’ Fund for Youth Employment, established in 2017 to contribute to sustainable and quality youth employment in Europe. It is implemented by five Junior Achievement Member organisations and over 1,600 NEETs in the four beneficiary countries (Bulgaria, Italy, Romania and Spain) will have received training and acquired the necessary skills in order to find a job or start their own company once the project is completed.