Against the backdrop of prolonged turmoil in our economy, it is evident that the labour market in Bulgaria needs somewhere between 120,000 and 150,000 people. If this is not met at national level, import of workers from the Bulgarian diaspora, Philippines or Vietnamese would be required.

This conclusion is made by the Bulgarian Industrial Chamber, which calculates that 150 000 workers from the Bulgarian diaspora must be attracted to return over the next 3 to 5 years from Ukraine, Armenia and Moldova. This is the intention of a demographic programme developed by the Confederation of Independent Trade Unions of Bulgaria (CITUB) and employers’ organisations. This will fill the shortage of labour and will develop abandoned villages, also notes the Confederation.

As alternative sources of labour, more countries in the distant East, Russia and Ukraine are sited.

The demand for qualified employees in all economic sectors will continue to grow, but the education and labour market is unable to meet it. There are enough universities, but the quality of the ones who graduate is not always at the level necessary to participate fully in the work process.

A study from August 2018 found that 68 percent of those surveyed over 600 employers could not successfully fill their vacancies. Which means a serious labour shortage. In the world, Bulgaria ranked 5th in labour shortages – after Japan (89 percent), Romania (81 percent), Taiwan (78 percent) and Hong Kong (76 percent).

In order to reduce the vacuum between employers and specialists, universities must fully focus their resources to develop a close link between theory and practice and raise the requirements for entry-exams. The country’s human resources and its educational system are more than sufficient to meet at least short-term needs instead of resorting to “ready” labour import solutions, as long as the necessary rational reform is put into place.

We need also strategy for dialogue with the Bulgarian minorities in the neighborhood countries, in order to to do everything possible to bring them back home, so they could participate as any other citizen in the economy and the society.