New Collar Jobs

The Value of Skills for Bulgaria’s Cognitive Future

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The pace of technology change today, global connectivity and new collar jobs – to borrow this IBM coined term – are forcing us to rethink skills development as a way to recognize that the future of work and the future of learning are converging.

More than 70 million workers globally may need to change their job due to automation by 2030, forecasts McKinsey Global Institute. We already see this happening: for example, bank teller jobs as we know them from the beginning have evolved on our sight to more demanding, relationships-oriented jobs that now offer high value financial services. The same happens in transportation, travel and tourism, to name just a few industries. Bulgaria needs to address these changes as well.

Bulgaria enjoys very well-trained, high-quality professional staff. However, lately we have been facing some pressures: with 50+ universities in the country and state spending on education in the range of 3.8 percent of GDP, our youth unemployment is in the range of 20 percent and we are having severe issues with brain drain. As a result, Bulgaria is one of the countries where employers experience difficulties in finding required skills, with the top knowledge shortage in IT and electronics jobs (according to OECD).

This disconnect points to an obvious need that is on us –  the academia. We need to urgently seek a skills solution that will continue to support Bulgaria’s high growth and high value route.

Fortunately, as a leading Bulgarian university, we in the University of Telecommunications and Post (UTP) have already established programs to bridge that gap. IBM has been an invaluable coach and mentor for us through the process. Our partnership already leads to shorter training spans and equips students with the right skills the business needs.

Together with IBM Bulgaria, we also developed new curricula addressing the skills shortage needs as identified by the business. One of the clear benefits we already see is that our students get the opportunity to start working in their respective industries even before graduation. In addition, the partnership covers:

  • Development of an educational content within the Linux administration, load balancing and Security.
  • Mentorship and coaching via regular meetings. Involving our students in several IBM initiatives helps them gain insight in emerging fields such as blockchain.
  • Special workshops, such as Personal branding and CV clinic where IBM professionals give precious advice to UTP students.

The career progression of our students is already a clear sign that our partnership with IBM is helping solve the skills shortage in Bulgaria, equipping students with the skills for their future jobs and providing them with the opportunity to learn, work, develop and grow in Bulgaria.

This story first appeared on IBM THINK Blog – South East Europe.

Head of department of Integration and Public Relations, University of Telecommunications and Post (UTP), Bulgaria

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