Family connections decisive for Bulgarians job seekers

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Some 40% of young job seekers in Bulgaria were successfully employed thanks to help provided by family members and friends, new research has disclosed. Dnevnik, EurActiv's partner in Sofia, reports.

Unemployment remains a major problem for young people in Bulgaria, with 20% of Bulgarians failing to find a job for several years after completing their education, research carried out by the National Statistics Institute reveals. Only half of the population aged between 15 and 34 are economically active, the report says.

Despite numerous programmes aimed at helping young people to access the job market, only 3.3% of graduates found a job through official employment agencies, the survey revealed. 40% of respondents said they had found employment through family connections and roughly the same number had done so by directly addressing companies and firms.

According to experts, Bulgarian young people are at a disadvantage compared to Western youth, as most of them did not acquire work experience during their university studies. Only 25% said they had worked while completing their studies.

The youth unemployment rate is much higher than the overall rate, a tendency similar to trends elsewhere in the EU. The World Bank recently pointed out that one of the greatest problems with Bulgaria's labour market is the low level of economic activity among the country's youth.

Crisis impacts on labour market

According to HR managers, the economic downturn has worsened the plight of young Bulgarians in search of a job, as in times of hardship, companies prioritise experienced professionals who have proven their loyalty and working capacity.

However, the National Statistics Institute study reveals that a significant proportion of Bulgaria's youth exclude themselves from the labour market. Some 141,000 unemployed people, 90% of whom were women, said they were not seeking a job due to their family situation.

Another 75,000 said they had lost faith and were not actively seeking employment, because they do not believe they would find a job. 60% of this category have a low level of education, having completed only the first eight years of school, data show.

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