Innovative Environmental Vocational Training in Bulgaria
EU Program: PHARE
Coordinator: Photeinos Santas
Contract #: 99-0282, DG-Ia
Duration: 24 months
EU contact person: Antonio Oller Castelló
Partner: Balkan Ecological Centre (BEC), Sofia 1756, Bulgaria
Employment requirements are becoming more difficult to meet due to increased competition in the professional environment. In addition to such problems occurring worldwide, professionals in former Eastern European countries must bridge the gap with the western countries.
This project aimed at solving the above pressing issues and to provide high-level vocational training in Bulgaria. This goal was achieved in three steps:
- training of trainers for effective technology transfer,
- multidisciplinary vocational training of the target groups, and
- establishing an internship program with interested sponsors.
- Staff of the Balkan Ecological Center
- Unemployed young professionals, university graduates, age 22-27, with background in environmental field.
- Broader group; not necessarily degree holders, age 20-35, unemployed or employed seeking further skill development.
Brief project description
The project was implemented in two phases:
Phase 1 - Technology transfer
1. INNOVATIVE ENVIRONMENTAL TECHNOLOGIES
During the first phase (train-the-trainer phase), the Balkan Ecological Center personnel received training in innovative environmental technologies. This knowledge included:
a) Terpene (essential oil) production (using forest humus, citrus fruits as raw material). Terpenes are natural, biodegradable cleaning agents ubiquitous in plants and they can be found in large quantities in agricultural wastes (e.g. citrus peels) and forest litter. Due to the above attributes, terpenes are rapidly replacing industrial solvents in high-tech applications as well as heavy-duty tasks including degreasing and engine cleanup.
b) Utilization of alternative biomass sources in papermaking. Recently, an Italian paper industry has demonstrated that organic powders derived from seaweed, sugar beets, corn, rice, and waste vegetables, etc can replace conventional fillers. The final product is highly competitive both in terms of quality and price with the conventional paper.
2. COMPUTER USES IN ENVIRONMENTAL APPLICATIONS
Internet acquaintance. The revolution in information technology has culminated with the Internet where a huge amount of diverse information can be found. Still, for some people, the Internet presents a fearsome task (searching [general information, products, services, jobs, fellowships, grants, programs], web page making). However, this task, once managed, can be infinitely rewarding. Modern tools provide new means of data mining and presentation, thereby expanding possibilities and freeing time for more productive purposes.
3. PROFESSIONAL INTERDISCIPLINARY SKILL DEVELOPMENT
- Inventory and Introduction to EU environmental guidelines. As an application of the knowledge obtained, the trainees were required to explore the Internet and retrieve information on EU environmental guidelines and legislation.
- Effective communication. This task entailed the exchange of information between individuals of varying background and training. In this way, communication between scientific/technical and legal professionals is facilitated and the integration and harmonization of Bulgaria with the European environmental Law is accelerated.
Preparation for the second phase included surveying of the Bulgarian environmental market, establishing or renewing contacts with prospective employers from the private or public sector, active probing of employers' needs, requirements and expectations from prospective interns and complaints from current employees, advertising to attract interest, screening of prospective participants, and laboratory facilities preparation for the second phase.
Phase 2 - Vocational training, adult education in Bulgaria
In the second Phase, staff of the Balkan Ecological Center disseminated the knowledge obtained in the first phase to the Bulgarian target groups. The two partners organized 3 courses for specialized and unspecialized audiences (students, graduate students, graduates with environmental science or other relevant major):
Innovative environmental technologies
The Balkan Ecological Center personnel disseminated the knowledge (terpene production and alternative biomass sources in papermaking)
Computer literacy course
Similarly, knowledge was transferred to selected Bulgarian audiences by the Balkan Ecological Center. This knowledge included:
- Acquaintance with the Internet.
- Computer uses in environmental applications.
Professional skill development
At the end of this phase, members of target groups performed an internship at various employers. After the end of their internship, participants submited a written account of the experience about their employer and evaluated the training program.