The Skills Needs Analysis of the Labour Market in the Library Sector in Bulgaria

The first phase of our Biblio project entailed the desk research on analysis of the skills needs in the library sector. All partners have done desk research reports, and a report “Librarianship in Europe – mapping professional needs” is currently being prepared.

Global Libraries Bulgaria Foundation (GLBF) as a Biblio project partner has been actively working on the the skills needs analysis of the employees in the library sector in Bulgaria. This multifaceted analysis has several components and includes several main activities.

GLBF produced the report about situation in Bulgaria, which contains findings and conclusions regarding the normative basis of vocational education and training in Bulgaria, with analysis of the State Educational Standards (SES) and State Educational Requirements (SER) as well as legislation and other regulations acts.

The entry of ICT in libraries identified the demand for new skills and competencies and therefore in Bulgaria in February 2020 started to work on the development of State Educational Standard (DOS) for the profession of “Librarian”. This standard will make it possible to correspond to the principles of ECVET by defining the professional knowledge, skills, and competences to be acquired by the learner, grouped in Learning Outcome Units (LOUs). Thus, SES  will be able to provide flexible professional training and more career opportunities. It will guarantee transparency of the professional library qualifications, as well as more opportunities for realization on the labour market.

The report presents a picture of the structure and types of preparation in the Education System in Bulgaria, taking into account good organization in terms of management and control of the acquisition of professional qualifications by the National Agency for Vocational Education and Training (NAVET) and the Employment Agency, but it is reported that coordination between all VET providers is poor and particularly inefficient.

The analysis of the offered training and the trained librarians demonstrated that Bulgarian librarians want to be trained in digital skills, which shows a low basic level of these skills. The analysis also identified problems regarding the lack of transparency in the work of the Vocational Training Centers (VTCs). Attention is also paid to the fact that in Bulgaria there is still no national framework for digital competences / National Digital Competence Framework, which would identify the needs, training opportunities, and their types, as well as validation of the knowledge of the workforce. Some features of Bulgarian national policies regarding digital inclusion and skills in Bulgaria are presented, emphasizing the National Programme Digital Bulgaria 2025 of the Ministry of Transport, Information Technology and Communications and a number of priorities of the Ministry of Labour and Social Policy, within national plans and European programmes for the improvement of digital skills as part of the reform of the labor market and the improvement of social inclusion in Bulgaria. These priorities are aimed at people with low skills levels; they are specified according to age; employment status; income, educational level, and others.

Despite the fact that, unfortunately, there is no special research on the state of the labour market in the library sector in Bulgaria, the labour market has been studied, and the authors  have tried to show some problems and trends in its state and development, mainly related to unclear job categorization (libraries are also meant here), the observed large imbalance in jobs in terms of education and the necessary competencies, knowledge, and skills.

Analysis of the labour market in the sector has also revealed two most common trends – there is no supply of vacancies in the sector, and the job vacancies are mainly for a “librarian” or a “library assistant”. Digital roles such as “Digital facilitator”, “Digital library coordinator”, “Digital cataloguer”, and “Data analyst” have not been identified among vacancies in Bulgaria. Here it is important to take into account that the library sector is fighting for funding, many libraries are understaffed, because of that they can hire staff only as ‘librarians’ though this specialist is required to have other skills to meet the job skills needs in the new library reality. The report proposes that efforts be focused on exploring the possibilities of how to divide existing job positions in the library sector and how to distinguish between different job profiles in the library today.

We believe that thanks to the efforts of the Biblio project and all the partners and stakeholders involved, the situation will improve and we’ll be able to offer innovative solutions to the library sector.


featured image of Sofia University Library by Anastas Tarpanov cc-by-sa-2.0