Employment is one of the most dignified and sustainable outcomes for individuals and families, which is why all of TSA’s programs are designed with this end goal in mind. To prepare individuals for the labor market, we start by considering how best to develop human capital – a cycle that starts in the child’s earliest years continues with their transition to early learning, and culminates with their graduation. These efforts contribute to an individual’s ability to generate income and achieve economic self-sufficiency.
This is a long-term goal, but the end results are immediate with, for example, Roma high school (secondary school) graduates in Bulgaria typically earning 83% more than their peers without a degree. Still, with 53% of Bulgaria’s Roma engaged in unskilled, low-paid work, the need for ongoing efforts in vocational training, improved qualifications, and small business development continues to be critically important.
The Family Economic Success program is designed to help those who want to increase their income, but lack skills, knowledge, or pathways to employment. We begin by focusing on projects that bolster the entire family, such as support for the start and expansion of family businesses and small farms, through hands-on mentoring and support, together with access to capital.
Special attention is also directed toward youth. Many young people lack the skills needed to connect with the labor market. This includes hard skills such as reading and writing as well as soft skills such as communication, teamwork, critical thinking, and problem-solving, with one-fourth of all employers citing a lack of soft skills as a reason for the difficulty in filling a vacancy. For this reason, TSA has supported projects that help young people to develop a variety of hard and soft skills as well as deepen necessary knowledge for a specific profession.
Lastly, given that discrimination continues to play a role in employment, TSA is working closely with employers to address stereotypes and to create better pathways for minorities to access employment opportunities.