Education and Training Needs in the Field of Local Development in the Lower Danube Macro Region
Nicola Yankov and
Alina Elena Balalia Additional contact information Laurenţiu Tăchiciu: Academy of Economic Studies, Bucharest, Romania
Nicola Yankov: D.A. Tsenov Academy of Economics, Svishtov, Bulgaria
Alina Elena Balalia: Academy of Economic Studies, Bucharest, Romania
The present paper is the result of an effort made by the authors to explore the needs of education and training in the field of local development, according to the situation in Romanian and Bulgarian Danube bordering regions, aiming at designing joint projects to address such needs between the universities to which authors are affiliated. Local development is here understood as a deliberately induced process of improving the welfare of local communities, which should be democratic, inclusive and sustainable, in particular with regard to creating competitive local economies, stimulating economic growth and ensuring better living conditions for the inhabitants. Local development is an important part of a governance process which involves complex interactions at various territorially defined levels: local, regional, national, cross-national, international. In the case of the regions considered in the present paper a historical opportunity is provided for them by the so called European Union Strategy for the Danube Region. In order to fully exploit this opportunity, the capacity to address local development issues should be strengthened in both countries, especially by well designed education and training programmes. This is why local development was considered a priority topic for the cooperation between the two universities. In the same framework, taking into consideration the challenges which are specific to the Lower Danube Region, other topics of interest were considered: logistics, tourism, consumer affairs or rural development. The authors of the present paper had to avoid overlapping with the work of the other teams. In particular, there are many common points between local development and rural development, because in both countries the regions on the border of Danube are predominately rural and significantly dependent on agriculture. Therefore, here, the needs for education and training are defined in strict correlation with the required capacity for understanding the development process and its priorities, designing, planning, implementing and assessing development policies with a favourable local impact in a regional context. The paper presents as in a mirror the Romanian and the Bulgarian points of view. The two perspectives are quite different but complementary. Briefly said, while the Romanian approach is bottom-up, with a focus on the local capacity to take initiatives that will contribute at shaping the regional development process, the Bulgarian one considers first the priorities of the region, in order to define the capacities required for a proper response at AE Education and Training Needs in the Field of Local Development in the Lower Danube Macro Region local level. Both perspectives are valid, and it should not be any contradiction between them. This is why we consider they are complementary. The studies rely on documentary research and secondary analysis of data in order to assess the capacity gap in addressing local development issues, and to identify education and training needs in economics and business matters related to local development. They discuss the rationale of cooperation between universities from Bulgaria and Romania in responding to such needs, and, finally they propose an inventory of joint initiatives in this respect. The paper emphasizes the factors which explain the reasons why cooperation between universities in raising the expertise in local development maters on both sides of Lower Danube is required and desirable, such as the vicinity, the common opportunities and responsibilities related to having Danube as a common asset, the similarities in development patterns, the common challenge of European integration, use of EU support and better exploitation of the Internal Market, the need to speed up the modernisation process and to achieve some economies of scope and scale. Among other proposals, authors propose the establishment of a university hub to coordinate networking among higher education institutions from Bulgaria, Romania and other countries of the Danube Macro-region in the field of local and regional development related research, education and training and a joint master program in local development.