Unprecedented levels of youth unemployment in the EU has led to the development of various remedial action at both European and national levels. However, in many EU countries, the percentage of unemployed young people stands high. According to the Ministry of Labour and Social Policy youth unemployment in Bulgaria for 2015 is 21.9%. According to a World Bank report this year, nearly a third of young people in the country are in the category "Young people aged up to 30 years, doing nothing". Such alarming data on youth unemployment exists in Romania where unemployment reaches 20.9%, in Italy - 39.1%.

A study of IME /Institute for Market Economics/ main reasons for unsuccessful realization of young people are:
- Lack of practical experience and professional contacts that create difficulties both in finding a first job and trying to switch from one to another type of employment.
- Lack of experience in the process of job search - sitting for interviews, participation in competitions, seek the assistance of specialized state institutions, agencies, etc.).
- Lack of practical experience and professional contacts and influence on youth entrepreneurship - including the lack of a network of business contacts and knowledge necessary steps and techniques for starting a business. On the other hand, employers are increasingly indicating soft, transferable skills /between 35-50% is the share of soft skills of total/ priority in the process of recruitment. These include communication, problem solving, contribution to team success, continuous learning and improvement.

The project "Volunteering - a factor for realization", funded by the Erasmus + 2014 - 2016, implemented by the Foundation NAVA and partners conducted a research on the professional development of young people involved in volunteering and use of accumulated skills and competences through informal channels and their career development. The research was conducted by the project partners - Department of Sociology at Sofia University "St. Kliment Ohridski" and Industry Watch Group.

This project builds on the results, and aims to increase its effect.

The project proved that volunteering allows for the accumulation of social skills in young people and significantly improves their self evaluation in categories like attitude to risk, communication and others. As key soft skills that are developed through the application of voluntary work stand out social skills - communication, teamwork, presentation skills, organizational skills - time management, conflict management, leadership skills, handling difficult situations, tolerance, determination and others.

At the same time, according to the survey of Industry Watch, the entrepreneur index among young people on the same project, reported increases in average index of entrepreneur among volunteers, compared to a control group of young people who have not taken voluntary work. Long-term volunteers are characterized by entrepreneurial qualities and characteristics as ambition, tenacity, seeking challenges and more.

In many cases where volunteers have taken voluntary work in NGO-s, social, cultural or educational sphere, transfer of skills is clear and volunteering is key factor in finding a job. But in cases where there is no clear parallel between volunteer and career opportunities, respondents in the survey indicated that:
- No self-assessment soft skills acquired through volunteering and no presenting volunteering during job interview
- Often deliberately hide volunteer experience because of the feeling of misunderstanding and/or negative attitudes from employers to volunteering.
- Do not declare their volunteer experience due to lack of document that proves it. When applying for a job most often point to such moments of volunteer experiences that are verifiable - when organizations provided volunteers different "forms" certificates of participation in projects and training, voluntary licenses and documents for exchange.

This project aims to make successful realization of young people in the labor market and tackle with youth unemployment by promoting skills and competences obtained through informal channels.

1. Raising awareness among young people of the benefits for their personal development of voluntary service and enhance their skills to present to employers and other stakeholders their strengths and knowledge learned during informal learning.
2. Raising awareness of employers of volunteering as a tool for development of soft skills and key competencies and benefits of informal learning.
3. Introduction of systems for the validation of competences acquired through volunteering - electronic platform, recommendations, books.
4. Developing entrepreneurial attitudes and skills in young people.



This project is funded by the Erasmus+ programme of the European Union.

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