Malta has been working on introducing vocational programmes at MQF Level 3 in the last three years of compulsory schooling, from ages 14 to 16. This has happened as part of the national curriculum framework (2012) and in line with the framework for the education strategy for Malta 2014-24: Sustaining foundations, creating alternatives, increasing employability.

In school year 2015/16, local vocational MQF level 3 qualifications in agribusiness, engineering technology, health and social care, hospitality, and information technology  [1] were developed and introduced in all State and most non-State secondary schools. These vocational subjects are being managed by [2] the MATSEC Board of Examinations (and considered as vocational SEC [3] subjects with grades from 1 to 7, on par with the other academic SEC subjects.

The introduction of these vocational subjects aims to:

  • broaden and enrich the secondary school curriculum through the adoption of teaching and learning methods that move away from formal learning to progression based on continuous assessment of practical tasks, project work, experiential learning related to work, written assignments and portfolios; this leads students to develop into autonomous learners;
  • provide alternative assessment for formative purposes and support their competences in terms of learning outcomes; 
  • provide initial VET certification to students;
  • put initial vocational education and qualifications at secondary level on parity of esteem with general academic education;
  • make education more relevant, meaningful and attractive to students who are at risk of becoming early school leavers mainly because the processes of the academic world do not suit their ways of learning.

All the units in the learning programmes of these vocational subjects are based on the learning-outcomes approach. In each unit, learners have to carry out two assignments prepared by the teacher and then sit the controlled assessment issued by the MATSEC Board. The learning process envisages that students submit interim work to the teacher to get formative feedback on how well they are meeting their tasks against the criteria they are working towards. For the first time the teacher’s assignments carry 60% of the marks. Vocational teachers have their work internally verified by another colleague; an external examiner in each vocational subject is appointed by the MATSEC Board to carry out two quality assurance visits a year in secondary schools offering vocational SEC subjects.

Uptake of these vocational options has been significant; for the school year 2016/17, 25% of the cohort in State secondary schools is opting for vocational subjects.  

A teacher training programme on the content, pedagogy and assessment of these vocational subjects has been offered to secondary school teachers who expressed an interest in teaching vocational subjects. The intention is to have this teacher training programme accredited as an MQF level 6 or 7 qualification.


[1]These five vocational subject areas are in line with Malta’s economic and strategic priorities.

 [2]The MATSEC Board is Malta’s national assessment agency on academic qualifications from MQF level 2, 3 & 4 (certificate and advance levels).

[3]SEC is an acronym for secondary education certificate.   It is the certification that students finishing the five-year secondary education course attain after sitting for the secondary education certificate (SEC) examinations.