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EACEA National Policies Platform:Eurydice
National reforms in vocational education and training and adult learning


14.Ongoing reforms and policy developments

14.3National reforms in vocational education and training and adult learning

Last update: 11 October 2022
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Jobsplus launches new courses

Jobsplus courses are demand-driven according to the Maltese labour market. Thus, Jobsplus has also introduced new courses in a number of sectors. Jobsplus has started offering a course completely dedicated to organic farming. This course deals with agroecology and agrobiodiversity. The participants are expected to learn about laws and regulations, costs and access to local and EU funds, challenges and mitigations which complements the National Agricultural Policy for the Maltese Islands 2018 – 2028. Furthermore, in the second quarter of 2022,  Jobsplus launched the Do-It-Yourself Essential Course which consists of several standalone mini-courses or students can opt to apply for the full DIY course. The DIY Essential course includes bricklaying, carpentry, electrical works, tile laying, plastering, plumbing and gypsum board installation. Moreover, as technological advancements continue to influence the world of work, Jobsplus has also launched courses on the use of social media for business, mental health support awareness, organic farming, and basic courses on metal machinery. Jobsplus is also working on courses relevant to highly innovative sectors, such as electric vehicles and automobile engineering.
Moreover, following the COVID-19 pandemic, Jobsplus adopted a mixed-methods approach when it comes to the modality of training delivery. Hence, a mix of both online and in-class training delivery was introduced, aiming to introduce further flexibility to better meet the needs of individuals wishing to engage in further upskilling and reskilling. 

Aġenzija Żgħażagħ introduces new programmes

The national youth agency, Aġenzija Żgħażagħ, introduced several programmes in the second and third quarter of 2022 aimed at increasing youth participation in society, improving self-esteem and engaging youth to be active and independent citizens. These programmes included:

Swish embraces the ideal of inclusion through sport and promotes the values of acceptance, non-discrimination and human rights by challenging different ability stereotypes. The programme provides a space where students in secondary level school years 9-11 can explore, and experience different realities as lived by persons with different abilities through experiential and reflective sessions.

Two initiatives were launched within the Malta Youth Film Festival (MYFF) ; Jumpstart Film Festival encourages young people in secondary schools to develop their creative and technical skills in film-making. Jumpstart Screenwriting Bootcamp aims to engage young people in the craft of screenwriting. The camps will include writing exercises, collaborative workshops and group activities designed to spark creativity and story ideas and build connections between the writers. The Jumpstart Screenwriting Bootcamp is a collaboration of Aġenzija Żgħażagħ with the Directorate for Learning & Assessment Programmes.

IdeARTI II-Printmaking is a project-based programme built to support young creatives in developing a final artwork that reflects their personal artistic language. Through a combination of tutorials, seminars, and peer critiques, young creatives will be encouraged to research, explore, experiment with materials, processes and techniques and develop a personal concept through a process-based journey that will manifest itself in creating a final artwork. Participants in this programme will be invited to develop works focusing on the theme of PERMANENCE.

Young Composers provides young people with the opportunity to be mentored by some of Malta’s leading composers and professionals in the field of music industry who will act as a source of inspiration for a selected number of young composers. The Young Composers Mentoring Programme is a joint initiative between Aġenzija Żgħażagħ and Pjazza Teatru Rjal.

Act On is a programme which uses drama to engage young people to find joy in self-expression and self-image, gain confidence, reduce stress and acquire team-building skills.

Moneywise offers the basic knowledge, skills and attitudes in money matters and acts as a foundation for young people to build strong money habits at an early age and avoid developing habits which could lead to lifelong struggles. It aims to help young people increase their financial literacy through knowing how to manage their earnings and learning how to save and borrow money responsibly; it also explores the importance of prioritising your savings. The activities in this program also cover the beating of financial setbacks, the understanding of how to plan for a good pension and other issues.

Impatt a project initiative by The Directorate for Learning and Assessment Programmes in partnership with the Maltese National Commission for UNESCO and Aġenzija Żgħażagħ. The aim of this project was to encourage young people to actively participate in democratic decision making at both local and national level. Around thirty-three young people from 4 different schools, namely St. Benedict College Middle School, Kirkop, St. Ignatius College Middle School, Qormi, St. Michael’s School, Sta.Venera and St.Nicholas College, Rabat participated in this project.
What is G for Green? programme aims to raise awareness and motivate young people to be able to make decisions and go about their daily activities based on eco-friendly and healthy lifestyles.
Directorate for Research, Lifelong Learning and Employability introduce new lifelong learning courses.

Directorate for Research, Lifelong Learning and Employability introduced two new essential skills courses focusing on promoting 21st century skills

The DRLLE introduced two new essential skills courses, focusing on promoting 21st century skills, namely Media Literacy: Understanding how media affects us; and Personal Finance: Managing your Money. Moreover, in a shift towards more modular courses, two courses that were offered in the past years were broken down into new modular courses, providing more flexibility to learners and potentially making learning commitments more manageable. For instance, the essential skills course entitled Bring Your Own Device has been broken down into two shorter courses: Digital Skills: Learn to use smartphone and/or tablet; and Digital Skills: Learn to use the internet and email. The course Child and Adolescent Development has been substituted by Child Development 0-3 years and Child Development 11years+.

Set up of policy technical committees to review and establish policies in Education

In the third quarter of 2022, the Office of the Permanent Secretary at the Ministry for Education Sport, Youth, Research and Innovation established five thematic review committees to review and establish policies in the educational system. The committees were established for the following areas: Education Strategy; Literacy; Digitalisation and Simplification; Early Leaving from Education & Training; and Lifelong Learning.

New MCAST Centre for Learning and Employability

In July, the MCAST Board of Governors approved a resolution for the set up a new Centre for Learning and Employability. The Centre will further develop the Learning Support Unit, which offers support to students across MCAST’s institutes with the necessary skills to become autonomous independent learners. 

The Centre for Learning and Employability will continue to offer tailor-made support, including one-to-one support; mentoring in small groups; vocational units support; assignment writing practice; academic and dissertation tutorials; research-related help; and holds workshops on study skills and time management. Additionally, it will enable further provision of personalised and group-targeted support services within the newly-built Resource Centre. Moreover, the Centre is focused on growing the College’s Third Age initiative and seeking new ways of reaching out to neighbouring communities. 

Agreement between MCAST and Teatru Malta

MCAST and Teatru Malta (the national theatre company), signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU), which will see Teatru Malta move to MCAST’s main campus in Paola. This agreement provides MCAST students exposure and hands on experience to the wide range of initiatives and projects carried out by Teatru Malta. x

Agreement between the Gozo Regional Development Authority and MCAST

In August 2022, an agreement was signed between GRDA and MCAST, covering a period of 3 years. Through this agreement the GRDA will be sponsoring courses held at MCAST, starting with one Gozo-based student who will follow an MCAST’s Master’s Programme, for a maximum total sponsorship amount of €6,500. The research theme will be chosen and mutually agreed upon between the GRDA and MCAST. MCAST students or staff will have the possibility to publish studies related to Gozo in one of the GRDA publications which include ‘Perspettivi: A Gozo Review’. On the other hand, MCAST will also collaborate with GRDA in the formulation of strategies and policies in areas related to vocational and professional education and training in Gozo or for the benefit of Gozo. Where the MCAST and the GRDA strategies align, the two entities will work together on initiatives taken.

Engineering Board approves MCAST engineering courses

In May 2022, the Engineering Board approved the four Bachelor of Engineering programmes offered by MCAST, enabling graduates to apply for an engineering warrant. This development means, that current students no longer need to undergo the Pre-Warrant Qualification Course (PWQC), that students who graduated before 2022 needed prior applying for an engineering warrant

Malta College for Arts, Science and Technology launches February 2022 student intake for the first time

MCAST launched a special February 2022 student intake which provides students who missed out on joining the college in October 2021 with a second chance to join MCAST. Besides, the intake will help prospective students continue their educational journey and experience the MCAST environment before enrolling in different courses in October 2022.

The February 2022 intake offer courses ranging from a Diploma in Transversal Skills to Generic Degrees. Students can choose between two study pathways, depending on their qualifications. The first study pathway targets prospective students who hold 2 A levels and 2 Intermediate level certificates. Students can enroll for one of the following five different generic degrees:

Bachelor of Applied Science (MQF Level 6); Bachelor of Applied Business Studies (MQF Level 6); Bachelor of Creative Arts (MQF Level 6); Bachelor of Community – Based Services Provision (MQF Level 6); Bachelor of Applied Technology (MQF Level 6)

The second pathway offered appeals for students in possession of fewer qualifications required for the first pathway. Students wishing to enrol in the second study pathway can choose between one of two awards, depending on what qualifications they hold, specifically MCAST Award in Transversal Skills (MQF Level 3) and MCAST Award in Advanced Transversal Skills (MQF Level 4).

Agreement between Malta College of Arts, Science and Technology (MCAST) and the Armed Forces of Malta (ARM)

MCAST and the Armed Forces of Malta (AFM) signed a five year agreement which will help in the development and training of new students and also personnel working within the AFM. The agreement will also help AFM recruits gaining MQF level accredited qualifications. Besides AFM will also offer technical and professional training to engineering students.

Sponsorship agreement with E-Skills Malta Foundation - Malta College of Arts, Science and Technology (MCAST)

The agreement supports the implementation of MCAST’s Institute of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) HackSpace Project. The project is expected to provide a space where students can meet, learn and discuss security-related issues, helping them to familiarise themselves with new technologies and improve their knowledge in areas related to cyber security.

Collaboration between Malta College of Arts, Science and Technology (MCAST) and Malta Public Transport

The Malta College of Arts, Science and Technology (MCAST) and the Malta Public Transport (MPT) have signed an agreement to strengthen collaboration on vehicles maintenance courses further. This Agreement will see MCAST’s Institute of Engineering and Transport design and introduce new study modules focused on the maintenance of buses and other heavy vehicles and machinery for students following technician and mechanical courses at the College.  The IET has also recently introduced new courses on electrical vehicles.

Memorandum of Understanding between Mallta College of Arts, Science and Technology (MCAST) and Koperattivi Malta

The college shall strengthen the collaborative relationship between the college and the Maltese cooperative movement through the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Koperattivi Malta. This agreement will help the college consider the systematic introduction of cooperative business models as alternative business models into different curricula across MCAST, in line with the industry needs.

Memorandum of Understanding between Malta College of Arts, Science and Technology and the Environment Resource Authority (ERA)

In January a memorandum of understanding was signed with the Environment Resource Authority (ERA) which shall improve training and research on the marine environment, climate change, air pollution, noise pollution, water resource management, biodiversity, and other environmental fields


Learning Box

As from November 2021, as part of its learning provision, the Directorate for Research, Lifelong Learning and Employability (DRLLE) within the Ministry for Education launched ‘Learning Box’ an initiative offering several self-paced and blended learning courses. These courses are brought together by professionals and adult learning educators shifting the method of learning from in-class or educator-directed to digital and educator-supported. Courses offered so far include language, IT, business, and humanities subjects.

Courses to Corradino Correctional Facility inmates

The Malta College of Arts, Science and Technology (MCAST) signed a memorandum of understanding with the Correctional Services Agency, whereby the college will start offering a selection of courses to inmates at the Corradino Correctional Facility. Through this agreement, inmates can follow MQF accredited courses, which will help them find employment in the industry after serving their prison sentence. Besides, courses on knowledge in handling personal financials, trade courses and manufacturing skills courses will also be developed and offered to prison inmates.

Developing the competences of Assistants to the Childcare Educator

In collaboration with the Directorate for Quality and Standards in Education (DQSE), the Institute for Education (IFE) developed an accredited programme of 30 ECTS at MQF Level 3 for childcare assistants. This programme was developed in line with the National Standards for Early Childhood Education and Care Services (0-3 Year) published in October 2021 whereby such persons will develop the competences to work in collaboration with centre managers and childcare educators whilst supporting the learning and development of the child.

Postgraduate certificate in Digital Competences for Education

The Institute for Education started offering educators a Postgraduate Certificate in Digital Competences for Education accredited at MQF Level 7 within which there are modules focusing on developing the digital competences of learners as well as how to empower them through digital technology in their learning.


Together with a number of foreign partners, Jobsplus launched SMARTLY – NEETs’ Employability in the Green and Digital Economy programme. The programme was launched in 2021 and is funded through Erasmus+. The priorities of the programme are to adapt vocational education and training to labour market needs while strengthening the employability of young people in a changing world of work. Smartly’s objectives include a survey and needs analysis with industry stakeholders, design of training content in green jobs, design in training content in digital jobs, design and testing of an enhanced profiling tool which features specific elements relevant for digital and green skills as well as general awareness and promotion of these sectors.


In order to ensure a targeted approach towards the most vulnerable of jobseekers, the VASTE project has been extended to assist long-term unemployed and migrants (refugees, third-country nationals with a subsidiary protection status or temporary humanitarian status and asylum seekers). The Programme provides a holistic assessment to participants through multiple training options and professional support which might lead to several employment opportunities. Additionally, through the VASTE Programme, persons with disabilities and vulnerable jobseekers can also benefit from occupational therapy, professional support, job carving, job coaching and mentoring.

Public consultation on the National Strategy for Lifelong Learning 2020-2030

In June the Directorate for Research, Lifelong Learning and Employability (DRLLE) launched the public consultation on the National Strategy for Lifelong Learning 2020 – 2030. The strategy covers the entire range of formal, non-formal and informal learning activities, both general and vocational undertaken by students (aged 15+) after leaving initial education and training. It was drafted through research, consultation sessions with stakeholders and focus groups in a manner that groups major ambitions and direction of the sector into 4 pillars namely: 1) Improving educational opportunities for low-skilled and low-qualified adults at higher risk of unemployment, poverty and social exclusion; 2) Diversifying the methods and opportunities for learning; 3) Ensuring quality in Lifelong Learning course provision; 4) Supporting adults to make informed educational decisions through the provision of a guidance system. Overall, the strategy aims to increase adult participation in learning, in line with EU targets.

Adult learning courses switch online

In March 2021, in response to the closure of education establishments to limit coronavirus spread, the Directorate for Research, Lifelong Learning and Employability shifted nearly 200 academic courses online for the first time as part of an emergency response. With the commencement of a new academic year 2020/2021, apart from the academic subjects, more courses were added to the synchronous online provision. These were Introductory numeracy and literacy courses as well as VET courses in Photography, Interior Design and Cookery and Nutrition. Synchronous Online Learning through Microsoft Teams has been introduced in the Academic Year 2020/2021 with the use of a Meeting Link, while Class Teams are foreseen to be implemented in the Academic Year 2021/2022. Moreover, as part of the budgetary measure, the implementation of will foresee the introduction of several asynchronous courses by end of 2021.

Outreach initiative

Between January and March 2021, the Directorate for Research, Lifelong Learning and Employability organized an outreach initiative, whereby it reached out to organisations working with disadvantaged adults, such as migrants and persons with disabilities. This initiative aimed at establishing a working relationship with these organisations and gathering information about barriers to accessing learning faced by these organisations’ clients. This will enable the Directorate to take measures to mitigate these barriers when planning courses.

Between January and March 2021, the Directorate for Research, Lifelong Learning and Employability organized professional development sessions for its educator complement, aimed at improving teaching and learning methods. These sessions focused on teaching online and on Project Based Learning.

Malta College of Arts, Science and Technology (MCAST)

Public Consultation for MCAST's Strategic Plan for 2022-2027

MCAST, Malta’s leading VPET provider in Malta, has concluded an extensive 6-month consultation process about its Strategic Plan for 2022-2027. During this period, MCAST sought consultation with more than 400 organisations and public entities. These included student organisations, social partners, economic operators, employers, employee representatives, NGOs and voluntary organisations, public regulatory entities, partner organisations, feeder schools, different ministries, and youth organisations. Employers came from different sectors, different sized companies, and different markets. More than 1,720 individuals/experts provided feedback, expertise or participated in consultation events.  The outcome of the discussions mainly concentrated on how the College needs to address the skills needs that the industry is forecasting in the short and medium terms. The participants were also on the lookout for collaboration options and to identify opportunities for students. 

Public consultation on The Malta College of Arts, Science and Technology Act

The proposed new legislation means MCAST will now have an act of its own that is distinct and separate from the Education Act. The Act seeks to provide further autonomy to MCAST and address the industry developments by providing quality vocational education and training. The Act also promotes strengthening accountability and transparency.

MCAST collaborates with The Malta Chamber

MCAST and the Malta Chamber organised an Education-Industry Colloquium to discuss skill needs in the coming years. The forum entitled Foresight 2030: Resetting Education and Skills in a post-COVID period aimed to stir a pro-active discussion on anticipating the skills for the future to ensure a thriving industry with a highly skilled workforce.

MCAST collaboration with Jiangsu Vocational College of Medicine in China

MCAST signed a new partnership agreement with Jiangsu Vocational College of Medicine in China (JSMC). A Memorandum of Understanding was signed in July which is aimed to enhance educational opportunities through diverse initiatives, such as student and faculty exchange programmes, dual degrees, cultural immersion, and resource sharing. JSMC has a long standing medical educational history dating back to 1941 and in recent years JSMC won more than 30 Jiangsu provincial commendations. The College has also secured 126 individual and group student awards in the national vocational students’ skills competitions.

MCAST debate tournaments

From November 2020 to March 2021, a third Debate Tournament was organised by several MCAST Initial VET Student Mentors and Aġenzija Żgħażagħ Youth Workers. The aim of this project was to continue providing young people with life skills and soft skills which would help them throughout their academic journey at MCAST. The objective was to empower young people to develop skills such as communication skills, leadership skills, organisational skills, presentation techniques, public speaking, research skills, teamwork, and time-management.

Apprenticeship Recovery Plan

In 2021, the Government announced an investment of almost €2.75 million for students to be given apprenticeship opportunities. The investment will allow MCAST to encourage more companies to recruit students in apprenticeship programmes.

Strengthening collaboration with the Institute for Public Services

MCAST will be offering three undergraduate programmes under 2 different Institute for the Public Services (IPS) schemes. The BA(Hons) in Public Policy and Management and BA(Hons) in Procurement and Finance will be offered as full-time programs for the general public. On the other hand, the BA (Hons) degree course in Public Projects will be offered to public officers on a part-time basis. 

MCAST and Institute for Education to consolidate the teaching of vocational subjects

The agreement between MCAST and The Institute for Education (IFE) enhances collaboration between the two educational institutions so that lecturers from MCAST collaborate with IFE in the development and the teaching of various vocational subjects.
MCAST has always been on the forefront where vocational subjects are concerned, so the collaboration between the two entities was a natural choice. The agreement strengthens the first agreement that was signed 3 years ago so that MCAST collaborates with the Institute for Education to nurture educators in VET subjects through the development of courses and the training of educators leading to more educators having the necessary competencies in these subjects.
This enables educators to lead students towards a smooth transition from secondary to tertiary education and to prepare them for the employment sector responsibly by training them according to their skills and their competencies.

MCAST strengthens collaboration with the Maritime Sector

An agreement was signed between MCAST and MaritimeMT focusing on possible ways of cooperation and collaboration between the two main institutes. This agreement will enable both MCAST and MaritimeMT to offer the best experience and the highest quality of training to all those students with a passion for maritime.

MCAST Engineering students now eligible for a warrant

MCAST engineering graduates will be eligible to apply for a warrant once they have completed the Pre-Warrant Qualification Course (PWQC). The engineering board approved the College’s pre-warrant qualification course and around 200 MCAST graduates can now apply for a warrant following successful completion of the course. The German agency ASIIN, known in the sector for its evaluation of standards in engineering studies, recommended to the board the course’s approval after a rigorous evaluation process.

MCAST joins newly established Foundation for Transport

MCAST is one of the key partners in the newly established Foundation for Transport. The transport sector is experiencing challenges regarding the skills and competences required and MCAST is well placed to contribute to upskilling and reskilling needed in the industry. The foundation was established to work with various stakeholders to reskill and upskill the current and future employees of this sector, particularly due to the fast-approaching 2030 objectives and longer-term 2050 strategies for the adoption of greener modes of transport.

Institute for Education (IFE) initiatives

Courses addressing VET subjects

The Institute for Education launched its prospectus and opened applications for courses starting in September 2021. The Institute has added two new streams to the Bachelor of Education and three new streams to the Master of Education in VET subjects making a total of six streams offered in VET subject at Bachelor and a total of six streams in VET subjects at Master level. 


The Institute for Education is currently taking part in a Horizon 2020 project KIDS4ALL (Key Inclusive Development Strategies for Lifelong Learning). The project started working on a ‘buddy collaboration’ scheme (a guided/intentional pairing of learners) with a lifelong and life wide dimension of learning in formal, informal and non-formal educational contexts. Children involved in the project will work on learning contents related to 8 LLL competences through theoretical understanding, applied content and interactive co-creation activities, where they will develop authorship and agency and enhance their intercultural, linguistic and socio-emotional skills. This project partners are from Belgium, Bulgaria, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Israel, Italy, Norway, Spain and Turkey. 

Malta Authority for Further and Higher Education (MFHEA) initiatives

Guidelines for digital education

During 2021, there was another significant increase in interest in the introduction of online learning in various education institution. As a result, the Malta Authority for Further and Higher Education (MFHEA) engaged two experts (both local and foreign) to work on the creation of guidelines for digital education. These guidelines are expected to be ready and in use by end of 2021 which will help prospective education institutions apply for digital education.  A final webinar on Digital Education will be organised for all education institutions with the participation of a local and a foreign expert.

Recognition for prior learning 

The Malta Authority for Further and Higher Education (MFHEA) published guidelines for our education institutions on the Recognition of Prior Learning. This work was part of the ECVET 2020 Project co-funded by Erasmus+ and MFHEA has collaborated with the Scottish Credit and Qualification Framework Partnership. Two VET Business Breakfasts have been organised on this topic. The first one included various local and foreign education institutions to help with the desk-based research on the various RPL frameworks existing, and the second one catered for the MFHEA staff who shall be working with these guidelines and guiding the education institutions 

Jobsplus Training Pays Scheme

To further upskills and reskill the Maltese labour force, individuals who completed compulsory schooling up to 64 years of age can benefit from the Training Pays Scheme through Jobsplus, which makes them eligible for 75% refund of the total cost of training. Funding for courses that lead up to a MQF (Malta Qualifications Framework) level 4 are capped to EUR 1,000 while for courses leading to MQF level 5, Awards at level 6 and 7 or industry-recognised courses related to Aviation, Maritime and ICT sectors, funding is capped to EUR 3,000. The increased capping for the MQF level 5 courses and the introduction of Awards at MQF levels 6 and 7 and non-accredited courses for specific sectors were introduced in June 2021. Following the simplifications that were introduced to this scheme, it is now easier for individuals to apply and eventually claim the refund.



National Commission for Further and Higher Education (NCFHE)

Measures to track and monitor participation in and completion of education and training 

On an annual basis, the NCFHE collaborates with the National Statistics Office (NSO) to collect administrative data on students enrolled in all further and higher education providers and all graduates, who complete their studies during that year. This data is used to monitor different aspects of participation in further and higher education and to guide policy development and implementation. Since the last data collection exercise, data on mobility during studies is collected for both graduates and students as well. Until end of 2020, data on students enrolled during academic 2019/2020 has been collected and that for graduates of the same academic year will be collected between December 2020 and Q1 2021.

Capacity building for a European graduate tracking initiative in higher education 

From 2020 until 2022, the NCFHE is participating as the country expert in a project which aims to build and enhance European Union (EU) and European Economic Area (EEA) countries’ capacity to track graduates from higher education, and to support the European Commission in its effort to prepare the ground for a European Graduate Tracking Initiative (EGTI). This capacity-building intends to contribute to achieving the objectives of the Council Recommendation on tracking graduates and will be implemented in close cooperation with the countries concerned.

The project is divided into 4 main tasks; developing a baseline analysis of capacity shortages in individual countries, producing tailor-made strategic roadmaps for meeting capacity requirements in individual countries, implementing the roadmaps in beneficiary countries and conducting a final assessment of the state of readiness for a European graduate tracking mechanism

Malta Qualifications Framework Impact Assessment

A peer learning activity held by CEDEFOP in 2017, in cooperation with the European Commission and Quality and Qualifications Ireland (QQI) highlighted the importance of assessing the impact of National Qualifications Frameworks and ensuring their continued relevance. After more than a decade of MQF, the NCFHE strives to ensure the Malta Qualification Framework’s continued relevance. Being the National Coordination Point for the European Qualifications Framework (EQF NCP), the NCFHE is responsible for the implementation of the EQF-NCP 2018-2020 project. One of the project’s main objectives is to conduct a first MQF impact assessment whose implementation, along with the recommendations for revisions of the MQF arising from such an impact assessment, will form the basis of a systematic MQF review mechanism. Throughout 2020, the impact assessment aims to identify areas for MQF policy developments as well as technical improvements needed on the MQF and its referencing to the EQF. It aims to propose recommendations for implementing, promoting and regulating the MQF and any further developments/changes on the MQF. A final report will be available by the end of 2020 and will guide the next steps regarding the MQF implementation and its referencing to the EQF. Preliminary results regarding promotion and dissemination have prompted the NCFHE to develop a logo for the MQF in August 2020 and to continue promoting it among different user groups.

Development of the Malta Qualifications Database

By end of 2020, the NCFHE is launching the National Qualifications Database. This database features detailed information on qualifications and awards in Malta meeting the requirements set out in Annex VI of the EQF Recommendation. It will also be in accordance with Subsidiary Legislation 327.433 titled ‘Further and Higher Education (Licensing, Accreditation and Quality Assurance) Regulations, which stipulates that the NCFHE is to maintain a Register of accredited Further and Higher Education institutions in Malta.

The database will be compatible with the Qualifications Dataset Register of the European Commission which will allow study programmes in Malta to appear on the EUROPASS portal ensuring a more comprehensive database of qualifications in Europe. Such initiatives certainly contribute to facilitating the mobility of learners and workers within Europe by improving recognition of qualifications across borders.

The database will include a list of all licensed providers in Malta, all accredited further and higher education study programmes including learning opportunities, homegrown awards and qualifications and foreign programmes at all MQF levels. The database will also include all the National Occupational Standards. By 2021, the database will be completely replacing the existing register and adequate promotion and support will be provided to ensure its proper use.

The Database will contribute to making information on accredited programmes in Malta more easily available to learners both in Malta and abroad to ensure that anyone wishing to further their education has the right information available to make informed choices and be assured that the programme in question is accredited and level rated. By basing the development of the NQD on the EQF Recommendation, the project seeks to ensure that information provided on accredited programmes is comparable and compatible with that provided by other countries. This will help to ensure the transparency of the system of accreditation carried out in Malta and increase trust. It will also facilitate the recognition of Maltese qualifications abroad through the transparent provision of information on programmes, which are level rated and linked to the EQF.

Measures to target low skilled, low-qualified adults and those with disadvantaged socio-economic backgrounds and upskilling pathways: 

During 2020, all Sector Skills Unit (SSU) meetings have been transferred to online meetings to ensure the publication of more national occupational standards. In fact, the NCFHE has now published a total of 80 National Occupational Standards (NOS) and is currently updating some of the ones published a few years ago. A new Sector Skills Unit has been created to cover STEM engagement and science communication. This is the first SSU to cover a scientific area. Through the ECVET project, the first NOS published back in 2016 have been reviewed and updated to reflect the improvement done during the past few years. The NCFHE has signed an MOU with a validation assessment body for assessments in the building and construction industry due to high demands. Furthermore, validation assessment has also started in the health and social care setting during 2020. By the end of 2020 approximately 500 candidates have obtained their certificate through the validation of non-formal and informal learning during this year.

Evidence based systems for skills matching as well as graduate tracking mechanisms
Since autumn 2018, eight EU countries participated in the EUROGRADUTE pilot project. The pilot survey covers graduates one and five years after graduation to cover the short term and the mid-term development of graduates. Thus, all graduates of the academic years 2012/13 and 2016/17 are being covered through this project. The pilot study covers the following key topics: Labour market relevance, skills, (international) mobility, democratic values and further studies. The data collection happened between October 2018 and February 2019 and the data has been analysed afterwards to draw national and comparative reports. The national and comparative reports have both been published in 2020.

Measures to promote mobility of learners and transnational collaboration of education and training providers, including through recognition of learning outcomes and qualifications

The NCFHE is the national ECVET coordinator for Malta during 2020 as well. During 2020, the ECVET project focused on enhancing NCFHE’s policies and procedures in various areas relating to vocational education. Through the ECVET project a total of 15 National Occupational Standards have been professionally proofread and 7 of which have been translated as well.
A webinar on Digital Education was organised for all education institutions with the participation of a local and a foreign expert. This webinar has been recorded and sent to all prospective applicants interested in introducing digital learning in their institution especially due to the Covid-19 situation.,
NCFHE collaborated with these experts on a glossary of terms directly related to online learning which were published on NCFHE website.
As part of the ECVET project NCFHE have also published two articles with a glossary of terms in Maltese in relation to education, VET, digital education and other topics. This glossary will also be put on NCFHE’s website for easy access.
Two ECVET Experts together with the Scottish Credit and Qualifications Framework Partnership to publish guidelines for our education institutions on the Recognition of Prior Learning. Two ECVET Business Breakfasts have been organised on this topic. The first one included various local and foreign education institutions to help with the desk-based research on the various RPL frameworks existing, and the second one catered for the NCFHE staff who shall be working with these guidelines and guiding the education institutions.
A webinar for all education institutions will be held with the participation of a local expert on Digital Education, SCQFP on Recognition of Prior Learning and IBE Poland on Validation Mechanisms in Poland.
In 2020, a virtual study visit was held with IBE Poland to discuss the Maltese and the Polish existing Validation mechanisms and proposed mechanisms which will help improve the Validation of Non-Formal and Informal learning.

Other NCFHE initiatives included the engagement of experts (both local and foreign) to work on the creation of guidelines for digital education. These guidelines are expected to be ready and in use by end of 2021. These guidelines will help prospective education institutions apply for digital education.
During 2020, there was a significant increase in interest in the introduction of online learning in various education institution. As a result, NCFHE will publish guidelines to help applicants as to ensure quality education throughout, Prior to drafting these guidelines, the contracted experts shall issue a survey to analyse what the education institutions are facing and adapt accordingly.

Malta College of Arts, Science and Technology (MCAST)

The Development of Online Courses

MCAST is the leading vocational education provider in Malta with a course provision that spans from MQF Introductory Level A to MQF Level 7. In line with its Mission Statement, “To provide universally accessible vocational and professional education and training with an international dimension, responsive to the needs of the individual and the economy.”, MCAST is always seeking ways to make knowledge increasingly more accessible.

Within this context, many e-modules in the areas of ICT, Creative Arts, Mechanical Engineering, Electrical and Electronics Engineering and Community Services, are being offered free of charge to the general public through MCAST’s Online Platform. These e-modules are being offered for self-learning but are not accredited. However, participants who register and follow any of these modules shall be issued with a letter from MCAST confirming participation.

In 2020, MCAST has launched an online learning platform offering free and flexible online education, with the aim of enabling individuals who are unable to attend educational programmes at a fixed time and/or location to proceed with their studies. The objective of MCAST ONLINE is to provide an online solution for individuals to follow lectures with the added flexibility of choosing the time and location to follow their education. MCAST ONLINE offers modules (online educational modules) in various areas of study.

New Collaborations

MCAST and the Foundation of Social Welfare Standards signed a Memorandum of Understanding at the College’s premises in Paola on the 30th January 2020. The purpose of this memorandum is to develop and strengthen their collaborative relationship to develop the improved well-being of young persons, aged between 16 and 25, at high risk of social exclusion. The collaboration envisaged through this memorandum is intended to facilitate the assistance and guidance provided to young people within the Opportunity Knocks (OK) project, the Embark for Life (E4L) Adolescent Day Programme (ADP) and other similar initiatives/services undertaken by FSWS. This collaboration includes access to MCAST’s educational and professional programmes, thus ensuring their inclusion and possibility to success in life. MCAST will integrate the referred cohort into courses which it runs on a full-time and part-time basis while FSWS will maintain its commitment to follow up and ensure full compliance with MCAST procedures and requirements.

A Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the Malta College of Arts, Science and Technology (MCAST) and the Social Care Standards Authority (SCSA) was also signed. The main objectives of this MOU is to, develop and improve the curricula related to social welfare provision and regulation in order to directly give due attention to the upcoming professionals who will be working in the field; Induce the evolution of the courses to reflect the current and future needs in the social welfare sector as is indicated in the trends being noted; and provide the opportunity for students currently following related courses to gain valuable hands-on experiences in the field of their study by participating in apprenticeships at SCSA’s three directorates the Operations Directorate, the Strategy and Social Intelligence Directorate, and the Governance and Assurance Directorate.

New Resource Centre

MCAST is taking the necessary steps forward for the College to grow. The construction of the MCAST Resource Centre (MRC), which has a footprint of approximately 2,300 square metres and is spread over four floors. This significant investment is very important as it will further develop the College’s physical environment.

Bachelor’s in vocational education and Training 4.0  

MCAST also launched a full time Bachelor’s Degree in Vocational Education and Training 4.0, for those wishing to specialize specifically in teaching and learning of Vocational Education and Training. A part time version of the course is in the pipeline. The emphasis is on education in its broad sense and therefore, graduates from this course can either be employed as teachers in compulsory education such as in vocational subjects of the My Journey route, in a post-secondary vocational institution or else lead learning at the workplace. The course stands on four main pillars – vocational education fundamentals, personal and professional development of the VET practitioner, pedagogy and andragogy as well as 5 practice placements - 2 of which are in industry, 2 in compulsory schools and 1 in a vocational post-secondary institution. This course has the approval of the Council for the Teaching Profession as a route towards being eligible for a permanent warrant following the years of practice during the probation and induction phases.

New Courses

The prospectus 2020-2021 features 191 courses at the college across the six Institutes. Seven of these courses are being offered for the first time. The courses provide students with training in finance insurance, retail, aircraft maintenance, robotics and artificial intelligence, transportation and logistics management, as well as the introduction of a Bachelor’s Degree in Vocational Education and Training. The college will also be offering 11 Master’s degrees during the academic year 2020-2021. In parallel, through the programme cyclical review, an additional 21 courses have been revised to reflect updated standards and industry requirements.

Covid-related mitigation measures at MCAST

  • MCAST, under the guidance of MEDE and the Health Authorities, issued health and stafety protocols and guidelines for the re-opening of the College campuses.
  • The introduction of Microsoft Teams (through Office 365 Online access) for Live student sessions. Staff and students were able to use this platform for continued connectivity, a well as teaching and learning.
  • MCAST had put on hold practical components of curricula during college closure.  A plan was drawn up to cover all theoretical parts of programmes within the academic year (till July 2020); while mandatory practical components were completed in September-October of the next academic year, where possible. This meant that some programmes closed off in July 2020 while others closed off in October 2020.
  • MCAST is embarking on a longer-term EdTech initiative for the gradual introduction of a full blended learning methodology across all MCAST programmes. Consultations are being carried out to issue Policy Guidelines and Quality Assurance Standards as an official guide to MCAST Management, Academics and non-Academics (e.g. the IT Department and administrative staff) accordingly.

Reforms undertaken by Aġenzija Żgħażagħ   

The agency maintained its efforts in a number of initiatives aimed at helping youth to continue their education and development, while introducing new ones particularly in the period of partial lockdown brought about by COVID-19, notably:

  • Introduction of an online platform providing non-formal initiatives so that contact can be maintained among youth during school closures. Among others, live sessions were held with youth students who feel lonely and with those who encounter problems in their studies;
  • Creation of Virtual Youth Hub for students attending post-secondary institutions with the aim to support students who feel frustrated with online learning. These sessions reached around 150 – 350 students;
  • Live sessions on Facebook and Instagram, chats together with and online youth café which reach 2100-3500 students;
  • Support for Youth Groups and Band Clubs so that they can switch their activities and music tuition online. Around 71 groups/clubs benefitted from this initiative;
  • Youth on Gozo (Malta’s sister island) is an initiative in which space was given to Gozitan youths to promote their talents while at home by means of a video which is then shared on social media. This initiative reached between 5.2K to 10K persons and 53 talents were promoted;
  • The which is a programme for vulnerable youth without any formal qualifications was converted online. The programme currently provides 3 life skills courses and 9 vocational courses which includes cooking, filming, hair and beauty. This programme reaches around 70 students;
  • The Young Parliamentarians Project and School Democracy awards continued to be provided online reaching 30 middle/secondary schools;
  • Live sessions with the Downs Syndrome Association twice weekly reaching 15 young people (aged 16+);
  • The mentoring service related to the Song Craft, Youth Film Festival and Artivist projects was provided online.

National reforms in adult education

The Adult Learning Courses cover the eight key competencies for Lifelong Learning and include both academic and vocational subjects. Learners have the option to acquire a qualification on the National Qualifications Framework from level 1 to level 4; including courses in Literacy (Maltese & English), Numeracy (Maths) and ICT; MATSEC revision classes and open classes (see Appendix 1: Lifelong Learning Information Booklet 2017).

The courses are delivered from eight Adult Learning Centres - seven in Malta and one in Gozo. The Directorate also collaborates with local councils and entities that work in the community, to extend its course offer within various communities. The courses are subsidised in order to encourage participation by low skilled and low qualified adults

Specific Course objectives are as follows:

  • To offer a wide range of courses that are accessible to all;
  • To reach learners who are least likely to engage in learning;
  • To increase the participation in lifelong learning across various localities in Malta and Gozo;
  • To offer courses at community level;
  • To reach learners with basic skills needs;
  • To improve the quality of adult teaching and learning;
  • To design courses that cater for adult learner needs;
  • To involve educators and learners throughout the different processes and learning cycle.

EU Agenda for adult learning

Through the EU Agenda for Adult Learning implementation in Malta (2019-20), Directorate for Research, Lifelong Learning and Employability within the Ministry for Education and Employment (MEDE) has secured funding to coordinate the implementation of the Recommendation on Up-skilling Pathways in Malta and to focus on how various entities will be working on establishing and improving skills assessment, learning opportunities, validation and recognition for adult learners. This involved the:

a. Overall coordination of commitment of Malta to the Upskilling Pathways agenda.

b.  Policy coherence initiatives through the coordination of the Lifelong Learning steering committee and stakeholder working groups (including Ministries, Entities, Community Centers, Local Councils, NGOs, Adult Education professionals, public private training providers).

c. Collection of updates on activities carried out.

d. Formation of Thematic working groups (disadvantage audiences, accreditations, validation, etc.).

National Lifelong Learning Strategy for Malta 2020

The Directorate for Research, Lifelong Learning and Employability within the Ministry for Education and Employment is responsible for this policy document. The National Lifelong Learning Strategy for Malta 2020 focuses on adult learning, specifically the participation of people aged 25 to 64 years. It embraces post-compulsory education, vocational education and training (VET), higher education, adult education and learning in senior years. The Strategy consolidates and builds on ideas and processes already taking shape in different organisations and institutions in Malta, to ensure a single, coherent place to guide actions in lifelong learning.

In line with the primary goals of EU 2020, the Malta National Lifelong Learning Strategy 2020 recognises a number of pre-requisites and addresses a number of immediate challenges such as the low level of adults participating in adult learning; the high rate of early school leavers and youths with low skills; the low number of women actively at work or engaged in lifelong learning; and the persistence of low education passed on from generation to generation.

The Malta National Lifelong Learning Strategy 2020 also identifies a set of basic transversal principles that are adopted in a pyramidal approach as follows:

1. The Vision provides the over-riding guideline for the lifelong learning strategy.

2. This is followed by Five Strategic Objectives to support the Vision.

Several strategic benchmarks serve as planned key performance indicators for the implementation of the Lifelong Learning Strategy. These strategic objectives aim to

(a) stimulate participation in lifelong learning by Maltese adults by creating both a demand and a desire for learning

(b) place the ‘learner’ at the centre by optimising all possible types of innovative learning methods and environments to make learning flexible, personal, accessible and relevant

(c) improve skills sets that contribute to professional development, employment mobility and active citizenship

(d) develop support structures for adult learning; (e) and finally improve governance in the lifelong learning sector.

3. Ten Strategies support at least one of the five Strategic Objectives. Each strategy identifies the current challenges and proposes a set of measures.

4. Forty Indicative Programmes support at least one of the ten Strategies. Indicative programmes can form the basis for future action plans. Each programme is associated with one of the following action types: Structure; Policy; Vocational Education and Training (VET); Open Education Resources (OER) and Quality.

A task force group to monitor the implementation of the strategy was set up In 2018, the group’s remit was further extended to oversee the implementation of both the Lifelong Learning Strategy, the Upskilling Pathways Recommendation and EU Agenda for Adult Learning policy coordination to ensure continuity and complementarity in policy and provision initiatives and to avoid duplication.

In July 2018, the group drew up are report on the 11 measures targeting different sub-groups of adults with a low level of skills, knowledge and competences. These initiatives address the key elements mentioned in the Upskilling Pathways Recommendation and in line with the Lifelong Learning strategy objectives namely:

·         Skills assessment

·         A tailored and flexible learning offer

·         Validation and recognition

·         Outreach, guidance and support measures 

·         Coordination and partnership 

·         Follow-up and evaluation

Recent outcomes and impacts as a results of monitoring Lifelong Learning strategy include:

  1. Evaluation of basic skills courses and drafting of a Framework for Basic Skills in Malta;
  2. Completion of the Schools as Community Learning Project, which took place across seven primary schools;
  3. Development of work-based Learning Self-Study Modules and Guides;
  4. Development and piloting of the CITO Skills Checker App, which enables people to self-assess their literacy, numeracy and digital literacy skills and receive information on the learning options (up to MQF3) available to them;
  5. Implementation of a national media campaign, focusing on adult learners’ stories, to encourage participation;
  6. Provision of remote emergency learning, for around 197 general education adult learning courses, during the period in which schools were closed due to the coronavirus (March-July 2020);
  7. Inclusion of synchronous online courses for academic subjects on the 2020/21 Lifelong Learning prospectus for the first time;
  8. Launch of a peer-to-peer initiative for adult-educator mentoring; 
  9. Introduction of an internet hub at one Lifelong Learning Centre for learners who wish to follow online learning but do not have adequate facilities or space or require digital assistance;
  10. Introduction of the EPALE Awards, launched in 2016 and held again in 2018, to celebrate and recognize adult education and learning in Malta;
  11. Launch of a new website and IT management system that facilitates the application process and supports better data analytics;
  12. The drafting of a new National Strategy for Lifelong Learning 2020-2030.