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Malta - Growing role of trade unions and employers in VET

ReferNet Malta

Developments at National Level with the publication of the Malta Qualifications Framework have led to an increased awareness as well as difference in the roles different key players take in the local labour market.

Through the efforts of the Malta Qualifications Council, employers, HR managers, trade unions as well as both state and private vocational training institutions have realised that they have a greater role to play in the country’s economy through investment in workers. There is agreement on the need to invest in training and to recognise all forms of learning taking place inside and outside formal training institutions. There is also agreement for closer collaboration between training providers and industry, as this would ensure greater competitiveness, particularly in a dynamic and constantly changing global economy.
Here are just a few examples of how different players in the labour market are investing in training to the benefit of workers, employers, industry and the country in general.

UHM (Malta Workers’ Union) has widened its remit of a trade union to reflect its belief in lifelong education and training in an ever changing labour market economy. Not only does it support workers in terms of monetary increases and better work conditions, but also in terms of education and training opportunities. In response to Malta’s large percentage of early school leavers, in 2003 UHM set up the Salvinu Spiteri Foundation with the principal aim to further the education of workers. The Foundation concentrates mainly on the development of IT skills in workers, but also of pensioners and the unemployed and inactive. These courses are not only important to enhance workers’ aptitude on the workplace but are also sources of knowledge for a better quality of life.

Similarly, the General Workers’ Union (GWU), have increasingly acted as major partners in promoting the development of lifelong learning among workers. Reggie Miller Foundation is the Education Department of the Union with ten schools catering for around 5 000 learners. The foundation aims to provide professional development and further learning of workers in both the vocational sector, key competences as well as other areas such as languages, music, Art and Crafts, Theatre and Drama, Information Technology, Health and Safety, Leadership, Academic Subjects, General Courses and courses held abroad, mainly in the United Kingdom. It also provides specialised courses in collaboration with FHRD (Foundation for Human Resources), the Gerontology Department of the University of Malta, the Employment and Training Centre of Malta (ETC), Labour Studies Department of the University of Malta, and TCTC (a leading Computer Company in Malta). The union also provides a Childcare Centre for parents who, while taking lessons, can leave their young children in a safe and educational environment.

From a different perspective, the Malta Printing Industry Association (MPIA) is working to improve the education system in the sector. Malta is facing a mismatch between the supply and demand of printing operators in the industry with printing operators being head hunted, raising personnel costs, and making the sector less competitive. The training issue within both IVET and CVET had to be addressed and MPIA organized various meetings and conferences for its members in order to highlight the needs of the industry. For the past two years, MPIA has been working with the Malta Qualifications Council (MQC), the Malta College of Arts, Science and Technology (MCAST) and the Employment and Training (ETC) to develop a training course that is more attractive to students and tailor made for the industry. This year MPIA has also been working in mapping out the different job positions in the sector and to develop the occupational standards which are to provide direction for course providers as well as for the validation of informal and non-formal learning.