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EACEA National Policies Platform:Eurydice
Validation of non-formal and informal learning


8.Adult education and training

8.5Validation of non-formal and informal learning

Last update: 27 November 2023

The validation of informal and non-formal learning in Malta (VINFL) is regulated by the Subsidiary Legislation 327.432 of 2012. This validation process of informal and non-formal learning identifies, assesses and formally certifies the knowledge, skills and competences that individuals develop throughout their lives by means of participation in non-formal and informal learning. 

As explained in Article 3 of SL327.432 these regulations provide a regulatory framework for the validation of non-formal and informal learning and for the granting of validation awards classified within the Malta Qualifications Framework (MQF) in accordance with the types of awards established within the same MQF.

Under Article 9 of SL 327.432 and according to Article 65 of the Education Act the Malta Further & Higher Education Authority (MFHEA) is the competent authority responsible for a validation system for informal and non-formal learning (VINFL). Therefore, the MFHEA is responsible to:

•    introduce a validation system for informal and non-informal learning (VINFL);

•    set up the resources for the VINFL department;

•    create awareness on a national level on the VINFL legislation and process;

•    set up meetings with key stakeholders from various sectors and to achieve benchmarking for the validation process;

•    draft information leaflets about this validation process for specific groups such as individual employers so that the general public will be informed about the national guidelines;

•    set up occupational sector units to ensure that the appropriate work ethics and practices are implemented and maintained within their parameters.

The European Guidelines developed by Cedefop in 2015 about the validation of non-formal and informal learning has provided a strong basis for the MFHEA to implement the National Strategy on Non-Formal and Informal learning. In 2015 and 2016, the then National Commission for Further and Higher Education (NCFHE) had put into practice several initiatives to expand and improve the implementation of the validation of informal and non-formal learning in Malta. The NCFHE had set up seven Sector Skills Units within the following Industries:

•    Automotive

•    Health and Social Care

•    Education Support

•    Printing and Digital Media

•    Hospitality and Tourism

•    Hair and Beauty

•    Construction and Building Services

These units were modelled on the United Kingdom’s Sectoral Skills Council and the feedback received from the European Training Foundation. The main aim of these units is to bring together and represent several stakeholders from different industries relevant to the specific sector to contribute to the development of the occupational standards. The NCFHE had also published thirteen National Occupational Standards (NOS) related to several occupations.

These standards are a set of job-related standards about the functions that an individual must perform for that particular role. These occupational standards have an important role in setting up assessment criteria which are administered by Jobsplus as part of the Trade Testing System. Through the Trade Testing System individuals who have three years’ experience according to Legal Notice 295 of 2012 are given the opportunity to have their competencies assessed. 

These individuals can also be awarded a certificate of competency either on an operative, craftsmanship and technical level. NCFHE had also signed the Memoranda of Understanding with Jobsplus and the Building Industry Consultative Council (BICC) so that assessment procedures and tests can be carried out for the validating of informal and non-informal learning.

As one of the main providers of adult learning courses, the Directorate for Research, Lifelong Learning and Employability has aligned its courses with the Malta Qualifications Framework thus ensuring that its course offer is accredited.

Students attending a course offered by the Institute for Tourism Studies (ITS) can be exempted from parts of the programme of study they choose if they present evidence that the knowledge and skills have already be acquired either through informal or non-formal education.  

Furthermore, in 2017 ITS launched an initiative in collaboration with Haaga Helia University of Applied Sciences to develop a customised upskilling programme for academic staff. For this purpose, ITS developed a process to validate informal and non-formal learning. A set of indicators were developed to benchmark the competencies of the academic staff through informal and non-formal learning. 

Also, self-assessment, interviews and documentation analysis were used as validation tools to identify the current skills and gaps. The validation process led to the design of a programme which aimed to top-up the degree programme in the hospitality course.

The Malta College of Arts, Science and Technology (MCAST), Malta's leading VET institution, has successfully implemented the EU co-funded project called Increasing, Accessibility, Flexibility and Innovation. The aim of the project was to increase the flexibility, accessibility and attractiveness of the lifelong learning courses offered by this educational institution. As a result of this project the following was achieved:

•    Labs and workshops can be accessed electronically;

•    Resources can be used after working hours;

•    201 e-modules were redesigned or developed.

The focus of the project was threefold:

1.    Blended Learning – A number of training programmes were restructured by MCAST in such a manner to allow learners to engage in training modules directly from home or their workplace through the e-learning platform.  In addition, these online modules are coupled with traditional lecturing, practical sessions and class tutorials for subject areas that require contact with lecturing staff.

2.    Accreditation of Prior Learning (APL) – Through this system MCAST is encouraging individuals already forming part of the labour market to further their studies by recognizing their prior learning and exempting them from the relevant course modules.

3.    Prior Experiential Learning (eAPEL) – Accreditation of Prior experiential Learning (eAPL) allows students who enrol on taught programmes of study to claim 'credit' for previous learning.  The previous learning acquired from work, community or volunteer experience, and which had previously not been assessed and/or awarded credit, must be relevant to the programme for which they are applying and if successful, the credit will count towards their programme of study.