Introduction to the VET System in Malta
Investment in the education sector is being undertaken to overcome a number of challenges. Currently there are few pathways for the flexible development between vocational and education training (VET) and non-VET streams. It is evident that in the absence of a clear and formalised framework that promotes and encourages flexible pathways within and among institutions, students are being seriously disadvantaged and the potential for flexibility and therefore competitiveness is not being realised. Also and such as identified in the National Strategic Reference Framework , without such a formalised framework the perceived vocational academic divide is further propagated.
The provision of Vocational Education and Training in Malta is considered as a top priority policy in the National Action Plan for employment . The policy is formulated along the lines of the Guideline that calls on Member States to promote the development of human capital. The Ministry of Education Youth and Employment provides the State infrastructure for this guideline.
The Minister of Education Employment and Youth has the overall responsibility for education in Malta while the Education Division is responsible for leading, co-ordinating, monitoring and providing the educational services within the sector. VET is also part of the responsibility of the Employment and Training Corporation (ETC) which, however, now falls under the same Ministry. Two other institutions, the MCAST (Malta college of Arts, Science and Technology) and the ITS (Institute of Tourism Studies) are VET providers; the latter institution falls under the Ministry of Tourism. The University of Malta itself runs some courses that can be classified as vocational. The Education Division also has the responsibility for monitoring and regulating educational services within the non-state sector. Due to the small size of the country administration and responsibility for all levels of Education fall under the Ministry.
Due to the limited size of Malta and the scarcity of resources, matters relating to education have always been the responsibility of the Education Division. Vocational Education was the responsibility of the Department of Further Studies and Adult Education. The amalgamation of the educational services provided by the Division of Education and the job provision services provided by The Employment and Training Corporation, ETC into the same Ministry, that of Education, Youth and Employment has furthered their effectiveness and facilitated tasks.
The social partners are consulted in regard of their respective educational and training needs. Their ideas and suggestions are seriously treated but the expertise of setting up curricula, teaching and training methods to use and the provision of the appropriate certification are the responsibility of the Ministry. One can say that the role of the Ministry, through the Division of Education and the ETC is shifting from one of supplier to one of monitor. However, a Technology Education course has been introduced for students of 11 to 16 years of age in 2001 .
State education is free of charge from pre-primary to tertiary level. The compulsory school age is from 5 to 16 years. In this regard it should be noted that there is no provision for IVET within the compulsory education age bracket. Also at lower secondary level, Information and Communication Technology in Education has been successfully introduced at all levels.
At Upper Secondary /post compulsory level of education the various technical and vocational technical and vocational courses and institutions have been integrated within the Malta College of Arts, Science and Technology. The courses reflect the current and future needs of the economy and fill a gap by providing vocational education and training that were not provided by the University.
VET is also provided at post-secondary (non-tertiary level). The main organisations providing VET at this level are: The Institute of Tourism Studies and the Malta College of Arts Science and Technology. At tertiary level, the University of Malta, the institute of Health Care and the Malta Centre for Restoration are the organisations providing VET.
The government itself is a major provider in the area of lifelong education both through its formal compulsory, post-secondary, vocational and tertiary education institutions as well as through other initiatives such as the Staff Development Organisation (SDO) and on-going adult focused Television programmes and courses run by the Department of Further Studies and Adult Education within the Division of Education. The Department of Further Studies and Adult Education now provides a wide range of courses at different levels ranging from basic literacy and numeracy to courses in engineering subjects. Apart from these, there are a number of Local Councils, parishes, private enterprises, Church organisations and NGO’s that offer a wide range of courses in the areas that fall under the EU definition of basic skills. CVET is also provided at the initiative of enterprises, social partners and individuals themselves.
A number of policy and structural initiatives have been defined to improve quality management at the institutional level. The role of teachers and the need to improve their competencies and teaching ability is focused upon by the National Minimum Curriculum .
The diversification of the Maltese economy has made VET more important to individuals, enterprises and society in general. Liberalization of the economy and the influence of technology are accelerating this importance. It is widely accepted that Malta’s traditional competitiveness will degenerate unless it invests in VET and the wider knowledge economy. Adaptation to EU norms has been the main policy priority in recent years and the major objective has been to increase the quality and supply of VET products and services. Teacher training, quality charters, the adaptation of European qualifications standards and similar activities have been the most significant investments in quality management. In this regard, and such as highlighted by the Malta Qualification’s Council , it should also be pointed out that Malta’s National Qualifications Framework is in line with the European Qualifications Framework for Lifelong Learning (EQF) which on the 5th of September 2006, the Commission European adopted as a proposal for a Recommendation of the European Parliament and of the Council on the establishment of the EQF .
One can conclude that serious efforts have been made to harmonise the VET System and quality assurance procedures in Malta since the country joined the EU. Although these serious efforts have been made, Malta still has a long road ahead, to implement measures that are in line with the Common Quality Assurance Framework. In this regard, further information should be collected during ENQA-VET’s Peer Learning Activity that will take place in Malta in 2009 (26-27 May) .
A brief analysis on the implementation of EQARF’s proposed or other similar indicators is provided below.
The following PDF attachment summarises evidence identified that relates any indicators used at national level to the ten indicators proposed in the EQARF recommendation: EQARF Indicators Malta
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