A Cedefop review on apprenticeships in Malta, the results of which were presented at an event in Valetta on 2 October, has found a mismatch between what is offered and what the labour market needs.
According to the review report, one of the first steps to address the problem is ‘to set governance structures to ensure cooperation and equal partnerships between the vocational education and training (VET) systems and employment/labour market systems.’
The review also suggests that ‘governance structures should enable a quick reaction to changes in the employment and the professional world.’
An additional action could be to clarify the place of apprenticeship in education and training: ‘Currently, school-based VET and apprenticeship in Malta exist in parallel in the same occupational fields, so there is a certain competition between school and apprenticeship training (two certificates, longer duration of apprenticeship than school-based, leading to the same qualification).’
Maltese Education and Employment Minister Evarist Bartolo noted that ‘apprenticeships encourage young people to feel like promising individuals with the potential to learn,’ adding that ‘many employers look for specific behaviour and attitudes in employing people.’ He stressed that work-based learning has three dimensions: hands-on experiences, school-based learning and a social interactive programme aimed at active citizenship and living together.
Cedefop Director James Calleja said: ‘With the thematic country reviews on apprenticeships, Cedefop embraced the mission to support Member States to deliver VET reforms, and to make apprenticeships a recognised and well-defined learning pathway towards quality jobs, career prospects, and a better quality of life.’
He added that at the end of the review process in Malta ‘it is apparent that apprenticeship governance needs to be revisited so that strategy design, provision and quality assurance are interdependent and act through a clearer legal framework, clear guidelines and procedures. The world of employment needs to be given formal responsibilities and treated on equal footing with the world of education in strategy design and provision.’
Participants in the event prioritised the following suggestions from actions included in Cedefop’s report:
- strategy, provision and quality assurance should function autonomously and interdependently;
- in defining the apprenticeship offer, governance structure should formally invest not only in the education side, but also in the labour market side.
The Cedefop review has found that ‘for apprenticeship to be sustainable, it is necessary in the medium term to convince the bulk of business, especially micro and small companies, of its value and the collective contribution to the skilled labour force at national or sector levels that can benefit all employers.’
Balance needs to be achieved between long-term interest in developing a skilled workforce and short-term interest of employers: ‘Business (employers’ organisations) should be driving this, in dialogue with sector organisations, education institutions and workers’ organisations.’
The thematic country review (TCR) on apprenticeships in Malta is largely based on information collected from stakeholders. Cedefop launched TCRs to support the European alliance for apprenticeships. Between May 2014 and May 2015, Cedefop piloted TCRs on apprenticeships in two volunteer countries, Lithuania and Malta. In 2015-16 three more volunteer countries (Greece, Italy, and Slovenia) will benefit from the review.