i-Coach - Innovative Toolbox for Internship Implementation

i-Coach project logo

ID: 2021-1-BG01-KA220-VET-000033358

Duration: November 1, 2023 – May 1, 2024

According to the European Council Recommendation on the European Framework for Quality and Effective Apprenticeships (2018/C153/01), one of the criteria for working and learning conditions is that of "pedagogical support", according to which "in-house trainers should be identified who to provide guidance to trainees'. In addition, according to the same recommendation, "teachers, trainers and mentors, especially in micro, small and medium-sized companies, should be supported to update their skills, knowledge and competences in order to train trainees according to the latest teaching methods and needs on the labor market". Taking these conditions into account, Business Innovation Center INOBRIDGE launched the i-Coach project: Innovative toolkit for implementation of internship programs.

The goal of the i-Coach project is to create a new professional orientation: the i-Coach expert, who will take on the role of creating and managing internship programs in a given organization. A role that is currently either missing entirely or neglected by businesses, educational institutions, and national policies. Companies often do not have experience running an internship program, as there may not be a dedicated employee at all to take responsibility for creating such a program. In other cases, it is simply not entirely clear what competencies they should have, or what the proper understanding of mentoring and his/her role even is.

Equally important is the question of return on investment, i.e. how a business could enable its organization to take advantage of internships and mentoring and successfully integrate them into its work environment. While larger companies can afford to invest in training their staff to deliver quality internships, smaller businesses cannot and would rather invest in more pressing needs. Thus, the long-term effect of having a dedicated internship program led by dedicated staff and its benefits remain virtually under-appreciated.

The problems addressed by the project are common both in partnership countries and across the EU. The i-Coach project aims to address the aforementioned issues through the transfer of innovative knowledge, tools, and practices based on knowledge of learning processes in a work environment, collaboration between relevant stakeholders, and the use of ICT tools in these areas.

The project envisages the creation of the following results and activities:

  1. Creation of the professional profile of the i-Coach expert
    This first project activity represents the foundation upon which all other project activities will be laid. Through a mapping process, the consortium will research and analyze all the relevant factors that will lead to the successful creation of the i-Coach expert profile, namely: the specific characteristics, knowledge, skills, and competencies that the i-Coach expert needs to possess. The understanding and status of internships and mentoring in general in the project partner countries will be explored. The stakeholders of the project will be directly engaged, namely businesses, educational institutions, as well as pupils and students in the form of round tables in order to specify the gaps in the current practices for learning in a real environment. Based on the research, the expert characteristics of the i-Coach profile will be built. The studies will also aim to identify the necessary skills and competencies to be imparted through the training course in the next phase of the project.
  2. Development of an i-Coach training course
    Within this second activity of the project, the most important and tangible product, namely the training toolkit, will be created to be used by the end users to define the role of the i-Coach expert in their organization. The course will be based on the research done and real needs identified during the initial research activity and will be hosted on a dedicated open-access online learning platform.
  3. The i-Coach collaboration model
    In the final third phase of the project, the i-Coach training course will be tested and the i-Coach collaboration model will be developed. The activity is designed to make all project results shared and is fully dedicated to increasing the attractiveness of Vocational Education and Training (VET) and complementing the flexibility of learning opportunities and most importantly contributing to VET innovation. The report is the culmination of the i-Coach project and will act as a blueprint and guideline for all relevant stakeholders. While promoting hands-on training and learning in real-world settings, the report will also explain how exactly to use and apply the i-Coach toolkit (based on pilot training), why it should be used, what its added value is, and what the benefits of its use are.

Exploiting the i-Coach toolkit is expected to become a powerful tool for creating and managing internship programs, as well as supporting employees in their transition to this new role in their organization.

If you wish to participate in the pilot training under the i-Coach project or are interested in another project activity, or have specific inquiries related to it, you can contact the Business Innovation Center INNOBRIDGE and the project coordinators: Ayri Memishev (amemishev@rcci.bg) and Irena Ivanova (ivanova@rcci.bg).


As part of the i-Coach initiative, we have developed an extensive set of training materials and handbooks designed specifically to support the development of internship programmes and strengthen the skills of mentors. We present to your attention a set of training modules and guides for i-Coach experts, together with a detailed presentation of the programme, all available in Bulgarian, covering the entire spectrum from basic to advanced topics necessary for the successful introduction and implementation of innovative internship practices.

To access these valuable resources, please use the following button, which will redirect you to a cloud location where you can download the materials:


North-East Regional Development Agency (NERDA)

ECOLE – Enti Confindustriali Lombardi per L'education – Societa' Consortile a RL

ECOLE – Enti Confindustriali Lombardi per L'education – Societa' Consortile a RL

Belgian-Italian Chamber of Commerce

Belgian-Italian Chamber of Commerce

Politeknika Ikastegia Txorierri

Politeknika Ikastegia Txorierri

Enterprise-University of Zaragoza Foundation (FEUZ)

Emphasys Centre


Irena Ivanova
Expert programmes and projects

For consultations:

T: +359 82 825 875
E: ivanova@rcci.bg


Tsar Ferdinand Blvd. 3A,
Ruse 7000