In March 2018, the Work-based Learning and Apprenticeship Act came into force, providing a framework for the development of effective work placements, apprenticeships and internships. It is based on research conducted by Cedefop, together with local learners, educators, employers and trade unions, after reviewing international legislation on traineeships and benchmarking good practices within countries leading in the field of VET.
The main developments proposed by the act include the right of apprentices to receive an income equivalent to the national minimum wage per hour of work; this is as stipulated in the training programme plan in compliance with the Employment and Industrial Relations Act, Young persons’ employment regulations, Social Security Act and the respective subsidiary legislation. There is also a governance structure to protect the rights and obligations of trainees and employers.
The act aims at strengthening work-based learning and apprenticeship through definitions and operational parameters for work placements, apprenticeships and internships. It outlines responsibilities and governance structures, while defining rights and obligations for VET providers, employers and learners. It highlights the role of employers as responsible learning partners and sets the compulsory minimum number of hours for all forms of work-based learning. Contrary to the previous apprenticeship system, there is now a single apprenticeship qualification replacing the dual certificate system. The act also stipulates that a training agreement register should be in place, to simplify data collection and policy analysis.
Through this act, Malta has introduced a system where apprentices get first-hand knowledge of how the industry operates, supporting their decision-making on which career to pursue. All apprentices now have the opportunity to obtain the necessary qualifications, while applying the skills acquired in practice with the assistance of experts. Establishing partnerships with stakeholders both at local and European levels, the policies and measures can prevent and reduce local workforce unemployment and inactivity through quality apprenticeships.
The new apprenticeship system also addresses the gap between industry and education, promotes job mobility and flexibility, and raises the level of apprenticeships through the accreditation of work-based learning. It benefits several groups of young people by improving their employability opportunities, especially those not in employment, education and training (NEETs) and those who have failed to integrate into the labour market for reasons such as lack of employment opportunities and of skills required in the labour market.