In the last few years, Malta has been working, through various initiatives, to increase access to education for those without a formal secondary education certificate. As from October 2016 the Foundation College within the Malta College of Arts, Science and Technology (MCAST) has developed a number of skills kits courses, which offer more flexible, customised pathways towards achieving certification.
These courses consist of short, 20-hour programmes which individuals can undertake at their own pace and according to their needs, allowing them to explore different vocational areas. The skills kits are small, bite-size topics covering various vocational areas as well as personal and employability skills. The programme gives the learners the opportunity to choose how many and what combination to study over a period of time.
Topics covered include art, hairdressing, beauty, basic web design, caring for others, animal care, sport, installation of low voltage devices, and cultures. Students are given a certificate for each skills kit they complete; on completing 30 they can obtain the MCAST introductory skills certificate. This allows them to progress to MQF/EQF Level 2, provided their 30 includes six skills kits from employability skills, six from personal skills and a further three for English, Maltese and mathematics.
The skills kits are grouped into several strands:
- creativity and services, covering creativity and basic services offered in the community, including hairdressing and beauty, art and design, office skills and web design;
- lifestyle science, encompassing care for others, for animals and plants, including poultry production, caring for others and sport;
- DIY engineering projects, focusing on basic technical skills, including basic domestic plumbing, installation of low voltage devices and servicing a motorcycle;
- integration, designed for foreign students wishing to study or work in Malta. This strand covers basic English and Maltese, and orientation and familiarisation of the cultures, social practices and basic services offered in Malta.
Other skills kits target particular abilities:
- personal skills, which focus on getting to know oneself, values, being proactive, time management, being critical and getting to know oneself through art, music and drama;
- employability skills, which focus on the basic skills needed for employment, starting from self-presentation, communication, working together, problem solving, customer care and interview skills;
- functional skills, which include functional English, Maltese and maths.
This programme is intended to raise the skill of individuals with low qualifications, leading them to more meaningful employment through educational programmes that seek to implement novel ideas on how to prepare individuals for the labour market. This has been another step to secure access to learning through flexible access to education while increasing the potential for individuals to shape their own future, as well as their cultural and social lives.