Current national apprenticeship schemes in Malta, namely the technician apprenticeship scheme (TAS) and the extended skill training scheme (ESTS) are to be reformed.
In current schemes students follow a dual system of vocational education. Apprentices register with the Employment and Training Corporation (ETC) who assists applicants to find an employer to provide on-the-job training. This training is supplemented with theoretical tuition provided by the Malta College of Arts, Science and Technology (MCAST), the local State VET institution; or the Institute of Tourism Studies (ITS). At the end of the apprenticeship, candidates are tested by an independent board and those successful are awarded a journeyman’s certificate at either craftsman and/or technician levels.
The reform started in 2013 and will be completed within three years. In this reform, all apprenticeships under the new national apprenticeship scheme will be pegged to level descriptors specified in the Maltese qualifications framework (MQF), which in turn is pegged to the European qualifications framework (EQF). Candidates interested in participating in such apprenticeship schemes are aware of level of training they will receive and qualification they will obtain before starting their training, as well as what occupations can then be sought afterwards.
The reform will provide ETC with more flexibility in the levels at which it can offer apprenticeships, depending on competence levels of the targeted training. In parallel, ETC intends to introduce apprenticeship levels for occupations already on offer as well as at any level in other occupations according to needs of the labour market and ability of apprentices.
One objective is extending provision of off-the-job training to all training providers licensed by the National Commission for Further and Higher Education (NCFHE). This will cater better for labour market demand, particularly in emerging sectors. It will address skills shortages most efficiently and effectively.
The new scheme should attract more young persons to apprenticeship by offering more varied training opportunities and a higher maintenance grant.
The scheme will encourage employers to take on more apprentices as the government will pay employers’ shares of enrolled apprentices’ national insurance contributions under the new system. This will result in reduction of employers’ costs per apprentice. It is also intended to increase numbers of apprentices in the system by 100 in 2013. The measure is ongoing and has a budget of EUR 1 148 400 (an additional EUR 650 000 were allocated to complement existing funds).