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COMPUTERWORLD | Articles | Business Environment
27 Feb

2008 – a Year of Career, Academic and HR Events


Konstantsa Grigorova

2008 was a year rich in career, HR and academic initiatives in Bulgaria. The ICT business more actively stabilized the basis of the contacts and partnership relations with the local universities, ushering new modes of support for the academic centres. Going beyond the traditional grants for renovation and equipments for computer halls and labs and R&D centres and probationers programmes, the leading ICT companies enhanced the career development and practice of the young talents by scholarships. Another new trend is the support from the business to the universities by preparation and actualization of the curriculum and the active participation of companies' experts in the academic lectures and seminars. The most vigorous companies have already made a tradition in all these new approaches for the purpose of filling up the gap of proper practice of the students from the technical-oriented universities.

Academic events

The academic council of the Varna Free University (VFU) "Chernorizets Hrabar" approved the curriculum for the master's program in Software Engineering. It was devised by specialists and consultants from Sirma Group in cooperation with professors from the university. At first the program was offered in the Black sea educational institution only. First students have started in the fall of 2008 and will finish it in three semesters. The master's program is practically directed and will ensure immediate start in the IT business for the students after they finish it. The subjects studied will cover the most up-to-date IT and Web technologies and the program will operate for 4 or 5 years without need of modification. The master's program will emphasise on the team work during the education process as well as in the preparation of course projects and graduation works. Another emphasis will be put on building skills IT project management, which Bulgarian state universities` shedules lack. Varna is the fifth city where the Bulgarian holding Sirma Group has opened its branch - after Sofia, Kazanlak, Plovdiv and Rousse.

From the academic 2008/2009 "Business Processor" is part of the academic Master programme in "Informatics" subject at the three economic universities in Bulgaria - the University for National and World Economy, the Economic University of Varna and the Economic Academy of Svishtov. "Business Processor" is the name of dWare's newest business management system. The modern product is a result of a 17 years of experience in the field. It covers not only the book-keeping activities - it is aimed at the complete business management with focus on segments like retail stores, warehouses, gas-stations, restaurants and other vertical industries.

The Sofia University "Sv. Kliment Ohridski" and Microsoft Bulgaria signed a license agreement allowing the higher school to accept a free licence for the use of CRM and ERP-business solutions from the Microsoft Dynamics package. The amount of the donation - technologies and licenses, exceeds USD 50,000. With this contract the Sofia University became the first in the country to join the global academy programme of the Redmond software giant - Microsoft Dynamics Academy Alliance. The two contemporary business process management systems are studied in 4 faculties of SU. 2,000 students will get knowledge and practice over the new platforms.

The business technologies consultancy company Balkan Services continued its traditional partnership with higher schools in the country during 2008 too. The courses "Basis of Business Intelligence" in the Sofia University "Sv. Kliment Ohridski" are part of the Master program of the Faculty of Mathematics and Informatics, which has been carried out for five consecutive years. The courses in the Economy Faculty of the University of Forestry - Sofia have been carried out since 1998 and they are part of the faculty programme, and since 2007 a similar initiative with the Technical University - Sofia started.

The Sofia University "Sv. Kliment Ohridski" established in October 2008 a new career centre at its Faculty of Mathematics and Informatics (FMI). The career centre was launched with the support of Globul and the Business Foundation for Education. This is the first faculty centre. Until now the university career centres were responsible for all the faculties in the higher schools. Globul invested BGN 20,000 in the renovation and the equipment of the career centre which will offer career consultancy to students and will connect them with potential employers and will gather and distribute information on job vacancies, traineeships and scholarship programs at Globul and other companies. This is the 37th career centre created which Globul and the Business Foundation for Education support with Globul providing mobile hotlines to all centres. At least three more careers centres will be opened in 2009.

The Business Foundation for Education (BFO) continues the efforts of the USAID Labour Market Project, focused on bridging together the education system, business and young people in Bulgaria. "Career consulting services - a tool for creation of competitive and effective labour force in Bulgaria" is the newest initiative of BFO, which started on 1 July. The project is financed with USD 60,000 by the USAID. The project will upgrade the actions of BFO in the areas of career consulting and vocational orientation services in Bulgaria and it is funded by the new USAID mechanism - fund "Bulgaria". The fund is managed by The German Marshall Fund of the United States and aims at continuing the support of different initiatives of USAID. 10 new university career centres will be established during the new project and academic ALUMNI clubs and community will be built. New programme for electronic education of career consultants will be designed and the 800 career consultants in the school education will get certificate over the Global Career Development Facilitator (GCDF) programme.

The Bulgarian State Agency for Information Technology and Communications (SAITC) and IBM Bulgaria announced the Bulgarian IBM Blue Gene/P - the first installation of the world famous Blue Gene computer in Bulgaria and the whole South Eastern Europe. SAITC will use IBM Blue Gene/P for high-end computing-intensive projects in life sciences, new drugs discovery, financial modelling and education. The Linux based system contains 8192 densely packed microprocessors and runs at 23.42 trillion operations per second (TFLOPS). Based on the current Top500.org list, the Bulgarian IBM Blue Gene/P would be amongst the top one hundred most powerful supercomputers in the world. Organizations, such as Bulgarian Academy of Science, Ministry of Finance and Bulgarian universities will be able to access the computing power of the IBM Blue Gene/P to carry out complex scientific research. In addition, the Ministry of Finance and the National Centre for Human Genomics and Proteomics (Genpromed), a newly formed public research entity in human genomics and proteomics, will rely on IBM Blue Gene/P in its collaboration with the IBM Research Laboratory in Zurich in supercomputing projects in the areas of financial modelling, genome studies, and drugs development. Four are the main target areas where IBM Blue Gene/P's computing power will be used: DNA-based , accelerated drug discovery, financial modeling, and supercomputing to boost skills of Bulgarian students.

The Rector of the Technical University - Sofia Prof. Kamen Veselinov and Prof. Jivka Ovcharova from the University of Karlsruhe announced the opening of Virtual Engineering Laboratory and Virtual Engineering centre in June 2008. The lab in TU-Sofia is the first of its kind in Bulgaria. It has been built via an research project, financed partially by the Ministry of Education and Science and with the active support from the University of Karlsruhe - Germany. The technical equipment includes immersive projection wall for stereoscopic visualization, a cluster for parallel processing of graphic information and tracking system for tracing the position of the observer. The programs in the lab are unique for the country too - they allow creation of virtual worlds and interaction between several users and virtual objects. The technology will be extended via interface devices, which will empower interaction with the virtual objects over different sensor channels. In near future, the virtual reality system will be connected with the new technology engineer solutions centre in the University of Karlsruhe for work over common projects. The Virtual Engineering centre was built in September 2007. Its main activities are ICT, system design, prototyping, optimizing and preparation for new items for the industry, medicine and architecture design.

IBM Bulgaria opened in June 2008 its first research centre, which is situated in the building of the Faculty of Mathematics and Informatics. The technology centre have been started as a result of the partnership between IBM and the university community as a part of the IBM`s academic initiative "To build together the skills, needed in 21st century!". The technology centre ensures the students and teachers real and distance access to technology platforms and information systems, which by that time had been used only by the big corporate clients of IBM. One of the first initiatives of the centre have been the support of the new Master programme of the Faculty of Mathematics and Informatics - "Information Technology Services".

Partnerships The world's largest training company New Horizons Computer Learning centres opened its first office in Sofia, Bulgaria on 26 March 2008. New Horizons Bulgaria started operating on the local market after the incorporation of the leading technical training centre Consulting & Technical Education Company (CTEC-BG). New Horizons Bulgaria became a successor of all the activities currently performed by CTEC-BG. It provides full range of solutions in the transfer of knowledge area: technical training, training on integrated business systems, office applications and business skills. New Horizons Bulgaria offers the full range of official training delivery methods (Instructor-led classroom training, on-site training, mentored training and e-learning) according to the latest technologies by Microsoft, Cisco, IBM, etc. Thus the Bulgarian company became a member of the global network of New Horizons Computer Learning centres - with a total number of over 3.5 million students trained per year. The different authorised programs are oriented towards IT professionals, business consumers from small, middle, and large organisations, as well as individuals. During the training process, New Horizons Integrated Learning model allows each student to acquire knowledge and skills in accordance with his/her personal and work schedule, learning style and current level of expertise. By 2009 it has been expected that New Horizons will open office in Romania, which should be operated by the Bulgarian representative. The corporation already has offices in Greece and in Turkey in Europe.

The Bulgarian software company TechnoLogica became an official educational centre of the Project Management Institute in April 2008. Thus TechnoLogica changed its orientation to a higher level of education - from a quality and processes and organization management complete improvement courses to a professional specialized transfer of knowledge at the fields of the project management for leaders and team members.

TechnoLogica and the American corporation Primavera Systems, the world's leading provider of project, program and portfolio management software solutions, announced their partnership on 25 March 2008. The Bulgarian company will be the only one authorised representative of Primavera in the country and it will offer all the software solutions of the American company. Primavera provides the software foundation that enables all types of businesses to achieve excellence in managing their portfolios, programs, projects and resources. It is estimated that projects totalling more than $6 trillion in value have been managed with Primavera products. At first TechnoLogica is prepared to offer of Primavera`s products - P6 and Pertmaster, especially at the fields of IT and building and architecture, but in 4 months it will be ready to offer these products in other vertical spheres - utilities, infrastructure, energy and financial sectors etc. From the next year the company will have the capacity to offer other solutions of Primavera too.

New Horizons Bulgaria has joined the biggest network of Cisco educational organizations of New Horizons Computer Learning centres in the world. The Bulgarian company offers educations according to the official curriculum of Cisco.

The Bulgarian company ITCE has become a local PMI Registered Education Provider (R.E.P.) and began offering courses in Bulgarian language for the international Project Management Professional (PMP) certificate. After a hard assessment procedure of the specialisation and professional expertise of the ITCE`s trainers, of the level of the training services and of the results achieved, the company offers to its customers the entire portfolio of PMP courses. ITCE will start also the PMI accreditation training for project management certificate from 25 February with PMP prep., which is a preparation training for the prestigious PMP certificate. New Horizons Bulgaria and ITCE had become authorized Cisco professional educational centres since October 2007.

The grants for 194 project have been approved over the first stage of the "Qualification and education for employed persons" grant scheme, part of the Operative Programme "Human Resources Development" 2007-2013. The scheme of the national Employment Agency envisages grant financing from the European Social Fund and from the national budget. Among the beneficiaries have been the ICT companies BTC, Intercom group, Eurocom Cable Management Bulgaria, Information Services, Orak Engineering, Cosmo Bulgaria Mobile (Globul), Technopolis Bulgaria, Bora Solutions, Netera, Maxcom etc. The scheme aims at providing qualification services and education for employed persons in micro, small, medium and big entities for improved labour performance and stable employment.


The IT company Telerik Corp. has been ranked fourth in the Top 5 list of Small and Medium Sized Companies Category and the software company SAP Labs Bulgaria has won the third position in the Top 5 Large Scale Companies Category in the annual Best Employers Study Bulgaria 2008. The survey has been carried out by Hewitt Associates with the media partnership of Capital magazine. Avendi Ltd. tops the list in Large Scale Companies category and AstraZeneca Bulgaria is in the first position in Small and Medium Sized Companies category. The study surveyed 13,478 employees and more than 367 senior leaders in 84 companies. The list of Best Employers for CEE 2009/2008 will be announced in June 2009. Telerik leaded the list of Best Employers Study Bulgaria 2007 in Small and Medium Sized Companies Category and SAP Labs Bulgaria was honoured as best employer for 2006 in Companies Over 250 Employees Category.

Unsatisfactory level of the skills and knowledge snowed the results of the first-of-a-kind national representative survey of the professional orientation and motivation of the students in Bulgaria. The research had been carried out by Hewitt Associates and the Business for the Education Foundation.

The results were announced in February 2008. Only 33% of the students in the country and 39% of the students in Sofia manage in a high level software office applications. The practical preparation of the students for real job occupation is insufficient too, showed the survey.

Manpower Inc. released the results of its Borderless Workforce survey of nearly 28,000 employers across 27 countries and territories revealing that 31% of employers worldwide are concerned about the impact on the labor market from talent leaving their country to work abroad. A parallel Relocating for Work survey by Manpower revealed that 37% of individuals would be willing to relocate anywhere in the world for a better career. The survey gathered responses from more than 31,000 people in 27 individual labor markets worldwide.

The students from the Technical University - Sofia are most wanted employees for Bulgarian ICT industry. This showed the results from the second annual survey for the Bulgarian higher education rating according to the employers, organized by the Bulgarian Human Resources Management and Development Association (BHRMDA) and the business daily newspaper Pari. The survey has been carried out among 600 HR specialists and managers, mostly from companies in the capital city Sofia. Questionned "From where would you hire IT specialists", 49.5% from the respondents answer "From the Technical University - Sofia". Another 35% point the Sofia University as a source of young talents and 25% of the respondents prefer the Technical University - Varna. The two technical higher schools - in Sofia and in Varna, have been chosen as preferred centres of engineer specialists too. Meanwhile, 34.5% of the respondents had answered that they have already hired in their companies specialists graduated the Sofia University. The lack of practical skills had been marked as main problem for the employers - 36.3% has measured it as a weakness. Next problems are the lack of motivation among the students, the insufficient preparedness in the specialty, difficulties for team working and lack of a particular specialization.

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