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Malta: sector skills units helping meet labour market challenges

A system of assessment, recognition and validation of informal and non-formal learning has been developed in Malta. It aims to address common concerns among VET providers and employers on quantitative or qualitative mismatch between education/training provision and demand in a rapidly evolving labour market.  Validation of informal and non-formal learning is a recent issue on Malta’s education policy agenda and will help face the challenge of devising training and education programmes which not only equip their learners with the appropriate technical skills but also provide core skills to enable them to take on future challenges.

The National Commission for Further and Higher Education (NCFHE) has been given legal responsibility to set up sector skills units, with the objective of ensuring the consistency and relevance of occupational standards within the sectors They also aim to reduce skills gaps and skills shortage, improve the skills and productivity of the sector’s workforce, improve learning supply, and ensure the recognition and certification of skills and competences within the sector. Each unit is responsible for developing occupational standards relevant to the sector it represents, proposing regulations and mechanisms for validating informal and non-formal learning for all skills within the sector, developing and maintaining a sectoral qualifications framework referenced to the Malta qualifications framework, and providing guidance and counselling services to individuals submitting their documented experiences for validation. They are also responsible for assessments and tests for validating informal and non-formal learning and, from time to time, auditing assessment processes and results achieved. The sector skills units comprise members representing the economic sector, a government authority or board associated with the specific sector, and a member appointed by workers’ representatives within the sector.

Much work has already been done to develop these formal structures in priority sectors. To date seven sector skills units have been set up: childcare, building and construction, hair and beauty, automotive, health and social care, printing and digital media, education and support, and the voluntary sector.