“Show me what you’ve learned”. Eleventh-grader Mitko Kolev immediately responded to the request of the US Ambassador to Bulgaria Hero Mustafa and together with the senior diplomat connected cables on the board at the Vocational Training Center Trakia in Rakovski Industrial Zone, part of Trakia Economic Zone /TEZ/. Yesterday, Ambassador Mustafa visited the only training center of its kind in Bulgaria, located in an industrial zone.
The meeting was attended by Trade Attaché Miguel Hernandez and Liam Sullivan – from the Economic Department of the Diplomatic Mission, Executive Director of the America for Bulgaria Foundation Desislava Talyokova, Nadya Zaharieva – Program Director, Business, Entrepreneurship and Technology of the Foundation, Founder and Executive Director of TEZ Eng. Plamen Panchev, the mayor of Rakovski Municipality Pavel Gudjerov, the mayor of Maritsa municipality Dimitar Ivanov, the director of Cluster Trakia Economic Zone Katya Staykova, Petur Ivanov and Daniel Kiryakov from the American Chamber of Commerce (AmCham), the teachers in the center Assoc. Prof. Tanya Titova and Dr. Angel Lichev from the University of Food Technology, the director of the Professional High School of Mechanical Engineering in Plovdiv, Eng. Kiril Saksanov and students from the high school.
“We have been working for several years for effective relations between business and education”, said Eng. Panchev. Thanks to his visionary ideas, TEZ has become a leading industrial project in Southeast Europe, with over 180 companies, 3 billion euros in investments and 35,000 new work places. The industry is looking for technical staff that education needs to “produce”. Two years ago, we created the training center, in which employees from the companies in TEZ qualify and retrain, and students conduct their internship in a modern material and technical base”, explained Eng. Panchev.
N.Pr. Hero Mustafa pointed out that together with the trade attaché in recent months they have held meetings with the American business in Bulgaria. Most representatives of companies have shared the need for modern equipment and technical facilities for the training of new staff. This is exactly what the Trakia Economic Zone team has already done through its training center. According to Ambassador Mustafa, this initiative needs to be multiplied. That is why the American Chamber of Commerce and the America for Bulgaria Foundation were with her at the meeting. The foundation is already funding a project in the training center of TEZ, through which 60 students from 11th and 12th grade of 4th vocational high schools in the area – St. St. Kiril and Methodii – the village of Kalekovets, the Secondary School of Agriculture – the village of Belozem, the Vocational High School of Mechanical Engineering – Plovdiv and the Secondary School of Food Technology and Technology – Plovdiv, acquire practical skills with the latest model of equipment.
“We supported TEZ for this idea, because our main goal is to ensure the development of young people in Bulgaria as competitive in local and international markets. TEZ has a combination of world and Bulgarian businesses that have lent a hand to education and school not only in the big city, but also in small towns. This project embodies the integration of business with education. He is at the heart of our mission. The long-term goal is for this to happen in more places in Bulgaria”, said Desislava Talyokova, executive director of the America for Bulgaria Foundation.
According to Petur Ivanov, CEO of AmCham, Bulgaria has had traditions in vocational education, which now need to be upgraded with the study of the professions of the future and ensure career development of young people in the country.
“Eng. Panchev together with the late mayor of Rakovski Franz Kokov are real economic revolutionaries, who built the Rakovski Industrial Zone from a bare field. The team of TEZ now sees ahead beyond the near horizons by investing in the most important thing – education”, said the mayor of Rakovski Pavel Gudjerov.
Mayor Dimitar Ivanov commented that the priority of Maritsa Municipality is good education and successful realization of adolescents. “Representatives of business, TEZ, mayors and the administration are working together to ensure a better future for our children. For me, their opinion is the most important and I want to hear it”, Ivanov addressed the present students with a question how they evaluate their education.
“Here we use the latest technology, we receive quality training through the connection theory and practice. The conditions are excellent and the teachers are great”, said eleventh-grader Mitko Kolev.
H.E. Hero Mustafa joined the casual conversation and asked the boy what he would like to do after graduation. “I want to open my own service”, said the young man and received approval for his ambition from all present.
“When there is integration, then knowledgeable and capable professionals are built from the student bench”, said Eng. Kiril Saksanov. The director of the Vocational High School of Mechanical Engineering in Plovdiv emphasized another merit of the team of Trakia Economic Zone. Eng. Panchev is the initiator of an agreement between Krassimir Valchev, now former Minister of Education, and Krassimir Petkov, owner of the Plovdiv electric truck manufacturer Milara International. Thanks to this, the Ministry of Education and the company Milara have given BGN 250,000 each, a total of half a million, for the retrofitting of the high school of mechanical engineering with modern equipment. “I am grateful to the former Minister Valchev and Krassimir Petkov for the great support provided”, said Eng. Saksanov. Through this symbiosis of business – education, a new specialty in the school is “born” this fall – electric vehicles. “Our high school graduates will conduct their internship at the Milara plant”, the director added. Within days we expect the delivery in the Municipality of Rakovski of an electric truck from Milara, Mayor Gudjerov boasted at the end of the meeting.