The aim of the project is to address the need for employing economically disadvantaged people in the region of Plovdiv with a focus on Roma. Plovdiv is reported as the second growing labor market in Bulgaria. By applying an innovative approach for tailoring soft-skills based techniques of diagnostic, job matching, coaching carrier orientation services included into a “Pre-employment program”, representatives of the economically disadvantaged communities will be included into a labor supply pool and then presented to main employers in Plovdiv.

Our aim is to fill part of the gap between labor demand and labor supply by tailoring soft-skills based techniques of diagnostic, job matching, coaching, career orientation and other services, which we call “pre-employment program” offered to employers in Plovdiv. The program’s main function is to provide a social innovation – link between pools of labor supply – vulnerable groups, particularly Roma population – and the employers, especially in manufacturing sectors. To ensure the success of the program, we will set up an “employers’ club” with the major (manufacturing) employers as members.

Many of the industries based in the region of Plovdiv involve high performance work systems. In order to function well, those systems need work teams and quality programs and their successful implementation involves interpersonal skills. Results of soft-skills assessment tool can play a significant role in the preselecting of employees with the necessary interpersonal skills.

We believe that employers, with some encouragement, consultation and assistance, can increase the number of job positions that have very low educational requirements and as such may be filled by disadvantaged job-seekers.

Our hypothesis is that soft-skill job matching of the low- and middle-skillset positions might have favorable impact on labor relations in some cases by reducing the exorbitant significance of hard skills requirements put by some employers.

In order to achieve the above mentioned aim, we conducted a social experiment by establishing an “Employers’ club” and invited all the local employers, and especially those employing or willing to employ workers from Roma minority groups to join the club and to participate in our “Pre-employment Program ”.

In the initial phase of the program, we offer the members of the “Employers’ club” subsidized service, involving specialized support for articulation of their requirements for specific job positions, selection of potential Roma/vulnerable groups candidates, pre-employability soft-skills training/coaching of those candidates and support to recruitment procedure.

The project is implemented with the support of Trust for Social Achievement and finished in March 2016.