The Malta College of Arts, Science and Technology (MCAST) has taken over responsibility for apprenticeship and is aiming to bring it to the centre of local industry. The reform is rooted in cooperation between MCAST and local industry which provides apprentices with high-quality skills indispensable for local industry and economic growth.
Since its inception in August 2014, the apprenticeship reform has achieved positive responses from industry. The interested industrial entities amount to over 400, offering more than 700 apprenticeship posts in various training fields, such as finance and marketing, electronics and mechanical engineering, agriculture, construction, applied science, hairdressing and beauty, and sports.
MCAST is now offering a training programme for VET experts (lecturers within their respective vocational field) with the following main objectives:
- improving quality assurance in work-based learning especially matching training with labour market demands;
- discussing assessment tools and techniques;
- discussing steps for supporting quality assurance mechanisms.
As part of its drive to bridge vocational education with industry, MCAST and the Ministry of Education and Employment, held their annual national conference in January, 2015 focusing on the apprenticeship reform.
The Ministry of Education and Employment also volunteered to participate as a case study in a Cedefop country review on apprenticeships, focusing on policies to improve apprenticeship in Malta. It identifies strengths and challenges of policies and presents recommendations to ensure quality apprenticeships. Recommendations for Malta include:
- amending the current legal act to mirror proposed changes to the apprenticeship system and governance;
- developing strategies for apprenticeship training by exchanging best practices and providing all stakeholders and social partners with indicators to monitor apprenticeship training and introduction of a benchmarking system;
- involving stakeholders and social partners to achieve broad participation in preparing legislation, developing occupational standards and training content, monitoring certification to improve and make apprenticeship training credible, transparent and responsive to new developments.
- raising quality of apprenticeships to strike a balance between school-based and on-the-job training and hence enable apprentices to remain employable in the long run based on transferable and regularly updated expertise;
- encouraging mobility of apprentices;
- designing resources to help teachers, career advisers and anyone offering information, advice and guidance to young people on apprenticeships.
A preliminary report was recently presented to social partners during a meeting of the Malta council for economic and social development. Social partners were urged to cooperate more with VET institutions and to address skills mismatches in certain economic sectors.