Since the beginning of 2007 Center for Independent Living – Sofia received funding from the Bulgarian Ministry of Finances under PHARE 2005 programme “Civil Society Development” for promotion activities of the results achieved by the international project as well as for building a national network of employers who would accommodate disabled people in their trainee- and internship programmes.

The purpose is to work closely with government agencies and organizations in a number of European countries to ensure that their trainee and internship programs are also open to qualified people with disabilities. To improve the chances of disabled youth in the labor market we plan to list training opportunities where disabled youth can gain valuable work experience and insight into the operations of top level agencies.

At that stage, the Centre for Independent Living (CIL) – Sofia tries to find out how many state organizations offer trainee and internship programs explicitly stated that they are open to qualified people with disabilities.

On the 12th of July, CIL-Sofia organized a first meeting in order to establish a national network. Seven persons in charge from different agencies attended the meeting. The participants set out some internship programs, one of which is The Bulgarian Dream. This is a national program for professional orientation and realization of young graduates and students in economy, started in early 2002. It offers summer internships for Bulgarian students in state administration, multinational companies and a career support as well, known as the ‘forum Careers’. The latter is co-organized by the Bulgarian Dream project with the Ministry of Economy, and the workforce agencies Job Tiger and Top Team.

The forum is to unite efforts in discovering new possibilities for career orientation to young people in Bulgaria. It aims at assisting employers in recruiting the necessary staff and aiding students in their searches for a suitable career start.

However, this first meeting highlighted the difficulty about guaranteeing that the different internship programs are opened to qualified people with disabilities. Apparently, some positive actions to ensure the participation of disabled people are missing. State agencies try to be in keeping with some individual cases rather than adapting the environment and the system to all the citizens.