VOICE OF THE
WORKERS ISSUE 20 MAY 2014
Contents Connecting the Excellence Circuit
What is Vocational Education & Training?
Creating new horizons
Encouraging Vocational Education and Training for Workers
A vital driver
Creating Opportunity We all agree. Malta’s biggest asset is its people. This asset needs all the attention and investment it deserves. More so in the 21st century global marketplace, we need to invest in having a skilled, diverse, and flexible workforce. We are placing increasing efforts on our tertiary education. It is essential for us to produce people who have been through the works in academia. However, the same goes for vocational training. Unfortunately, vocational training is seen by some as inferior to academic studies; a Cinderella of the world of skills and knowledge. This is tragically wrong, and has the potential to prove very costly to every country that follows this notion. Not all workers have an aptitude for academia. If given the chance, workers who successfully undergo vocational training and VOICE OF THE
education can perfectly fit into the vision of excellence we all dream for Malta. Moreover, the hands-on nature of this training helps these workers become more employable and flexible to changing labour market conditions. Vocational training may be vital in filling up gaps in the labour market, and provide jobs and fair pay for many workers. VET can significantly improve the matching exercise between worker skills and education on one side, and demand for workers on the other. We need to invest more effort into Vocational Education and Training. We need to identify more areas of work in which our students and workers can excel. Moreover, we also need to provide a smoother harmonization between the world of vocational education and
EDITOR’S NOTE JOSEF VELLA
training, and academic study. There needs to be a better integration of MCAST and the University of Malta to achieve synergies, and provide a better balance between the worlds of theory and practice. We need to be proactive in identifying opportunities for work not just today, but also in the longer term. It is through this planning that we can become successful in providing more work and making it pay. Every day that passes is an opportunity gained, or an opportunity missed. Let’s work to make it an opportunity gained. 1
Connecting the Excellence Circuit Vocational education and training (VET) provides individuals with the chance to become excellent at work they believe they can excel in. In turn, this also provides the economy with skilled, flexible workers, that can integrate into the labour market with the right dose of hands-on training and technical skills. Vocational training goes hand in hand with academic training, and more needs to be done to help change the perception of of VET as being the domain of under-achievers. VOICE OF THE
VOCATIONAL EDUCATION & TRAINING? VOCATIONAL EDUCATION AND TRAINING PREPARES PEOPLE FOR SPECIFIC TRADES, CRAFTS AND CAREERS AT VARIOUS LEVELS. VOCATIONAL EDUCATION CAN BE AT SECONDARY, POST SECONDARY AND TERTIARY EDUCATION LEVELS, AND CAN ALSO INCLUDE AN APPRENTICESHIP SYSTEM Vocational education can be recognised for formal tertiary education qualifications in terms of prior learning and partial academic as credits. However, it is rarely considered in its own form to fall under the traditional academic definition of higher education. VET in the European Union Within the European Union, Education is the responsibility of member states. However, the fact that the EU operates under a single labour market, necessitates the need for increasing cooperation between member states. Based on the Copenhagen Process, the European Commission acts in partnership with national governments, VOICE OF THE
employers’ and workers’ groups and countries outside the EU to: • Improve the quality of training (initial education, continuing development); • Improve the quality of teachers, trainers and other professionals in the sector; • Make courses more relevant to the labour market. The European Commission’s work on vocational education and training is supported by two agencies: • European Centre for the Development of Vocational Training (Cedefop) provides information and analysis of education & training systems, policies, research and practice in the EU;
• European Training Foundation (ETF) works to develop education & training systems in the Western Balkans, neighbouring countries and Central Asia. One of the new programmes funded by the European Union for increasing skills and employability through education and training is the Erasmus+ programme. Amongst other things, Erasmus+ offers vocational education and training opportunities for students, apprentices, trainees, staff, institutions and business. Individuals may undertake a placement abroad in a company, public organization or NGO, as well as in a vocational school with periods of work-based learning in a company. 3
Why is vocational training important? Traditionally, many societies place higher value on the professions and white-collar jobs, than on blue-collar work. Sometimes people look towards blue-collar work as a waste of talent. Vocational training is important for a number of reasons, namely: • Individuals should have the opportunity to be trained in whatever skills their natural gifts and preferences lead them to.
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• Many of the skills needed to compete in the global market of the 21st century are technical skills that fall into the technical or vocational area. Not providing an opportunity for excellence in this area is particularly damaging both socially and economically. • Vocational training may be an effective area of activity for persons who would not necessarily be happy, successful or comfortable in strict academia.
• Vocational training can also be provided hand in hand with academic qualifications. The challenge here is to harmonise between one and the other. Vocational education on both a secondary and post-secondary level should be highly valued, well-funded and effectively implemented.
INTERVIEW - EDEL CASSAR
CREATING NEW HORIZONS JOHN MALLIA INTERVIEWS EDEL CASSAR, CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER AT THE NATIONAL COMMISSION FOR FURTHER AND HIGHER EDUCATION
Q: How do you view the importance of vocational training for a country such as Malta? A: Vocational training in Malta has surged exponentially and created new horizons in the past 15 years for both the students as well as the economic players. The increased professionalism with which MCAST and ITS, the two main providers, are being managed means that vocational students leaving the institutions are brining to the workplace a combination of technical know how, hands on approaches, problem solving skills and flexibility in their team approach with colleagues. Vocational education in Malta will continue going from strength to strength as long as providers continue to stay firmly grounded in the changing economic needs VOICE OF THE
and to be flexible enough to tweak provision to match the expected skills set which industry is looking for. Q: The economic crisis is leaving its mark on employment figures throughout most of Europe, especially with regards to youth unemployment. In a scenario of shrinking work opportunities, what role can VET play in this respect? A: VET has a secret weapon which will help maintain itâ€™s relevance and importance in fighting youth unemployment. The varying modes of providing work based learning will mean that vocational students enter the world of work already with a cutting edge over their academic counterparts. Apprenticeships, traineeships, floorshop experience, summer work, placements abroad, and school based simulations are only
but few means of providing a dose of professional work reality to students. VET providers however have to continuously strive to provide meaningful work based learning which is monitored and which actively contributes towards the learning outcomes expected from the programme of studies which the student is following. Q: The basis of the Copenhagen process is the enhanced cooperation in improving VET at European level. To which level is Malta involved at European level? A: Malta is participating in all fora related to VET provision and itâ€™s modernatisation. We continue to strive to seek options for policy initiatives that will make VET more recognized internationally through strengthen quality 5
INTERVIEW - EDEL CASSAR
assurance systems, streamlining credit systems and enhancing permeability between academic and vocational streams. Malta is working with international expertise to design study programmes at Higher levels, redesign existing study programmes making them more focused, more relevant and more attractive for the ultimate scope of increasing the rate of tertiary students in Malta, increasing retention rate of students and increasing the employability rate of graduates. Q: How is the National Commission for Further and Higher Education contributing towards VET in Malta? A: In the context of VET, the NCFHE has a dual role. From a quality assurance point of view, NCFHE is responsible to develop a national framework which encompasses and regulates VET provision. The NCFHE has also been involved heavily from a policy perspective to develop the context within which VET provision could flourish and find itâ€™s place in the further and higher education sphere in Malta. The NCFHE, through the MQRIC is also responsible to regulate recognition of VET study programmes offered both locally and abroad.
Q: How important are common instruments and references for qualifications across Europe? A: Promoting the use of transparency tools and ensuring their correct use amongst VET institutions and their students is another important aspect of the work of the NCFHE. The use of tools such as EUROPASS mobility passport and the Certificate/ Diploma supplement are tools which no VET student should be without. They are a common currency which ease mobility of qualifications and experiences across all European Member States. Q: In your opinion, in what ways can VET cater for the needs of disadvantaged people and groups? A: Due to its practical nature but also due to the myriad of options available, VET seems to be more in tune and flexible to cater for the needs of disadvantaged individuals. Hands on experience
and assisted work based learning could provide more visual experiential learning possibilities for students with learning difficulties. VET routes also allow for entry at different levels, longer routes - where needed - to attain the same level of qualification and different exit points. Q: What, in your view, still needs to be done to improve Maltaâ€™s record in this aspect? A: Further development of VET systems remain a priority for Malta in order to meet the needs of people or groups at risk requiring a combination of targeted investments, assessment of prior learning and tailored training and learning provision. A stronger focus on learner-centred approach, complementary support strategies, blended delivery models and enhanced accessibility are key pillars to keeping building on what we have achieved so far.
Edel Cassar has recently been appointed as the Chief Executive Officer at the National Commission for Further and Higher Education. She comes from a background of education, training and EU funding with work experience as a teacher, administrative experience of VET provision within the International Office at MCAST, and experience of management and monitoring of funding Education and Training programmes at the Planning and Priorities Coordination Division. Academically, she is a Psychology graduate of the University of Malta and holds a MSc in Training and HRM from the University of Leicester. VOICE OF THE
Encouraging Vocational Education and Training for Workers Education and training are a key factor to ensure both economic and social progress. Aligning skills with labour market needs plays a crucial role in all of this. In its response to the economic crisis, the European Union (EU) set out ambitious plans to bring the number of early school leavers down to below 10% and increase Europe’s share of graduates from tertiary education to at least 40% by 2020. In an increasingly globalised and knowledge-based economy, Europe is in need of a well-skilled workforce to compete in terms of productivity, quality, and innovation. Statistics, however, suggest that at least 20% of the EU’s working
age population possess limited or low literacy and numeracy skills. All this adds to the ever increasing mismatch between the skills people acquire and what is currently demanded of employees in today’s competitive and demanding labour market. Erasmus+ is a new funding programme that aims at improving skills and employability, and modernising Education, Training and Youth work. Erasmus+ is aimed at providing opportunities for Europeans to study, train, gain work experience and volunteer abroad. In addition to providing grants for individuals, Erasmus+ will support transnational partnerships among Education, Training and Youth institutions and organisations to
foster cooperation and bridge the worlds of education and work. It will also support national efforts to modernise education, training and youth systems. The programme’s general objectives seek to empower individuals and institutions by supporting staff mobility projects. These mobility projects may of two types: • A teaching/training assignment – an activity which allows staff of Vocational and Educational Training (VET) Schools to teach a partner VET school abroad; • Staff Training – this supports the professional development of VET staff in the form of a work placement or a job shadowing/ observation period abroad in an enterprise or any other VET organisation.
MEUSAC 280 Republic Street, Valletta VLT 1112 Tel: +356 2200 3315 • Fax: +356 2200 3329 • Email: email@example.com www.meusac.gov.mt VOICE OF THE
A vital driver Vocational training can take various facets including academic training and job shadowing experiences abroad. The EU has focused much of its attention of VET policies encouraging the workforce to continue its training so as to ensure that Europe has a competitive labour force. A competitive labour force means a competitive economy hence encouraging Foreign Investment in the country. In Malta in recent years focus has been shifted towards the importance of vocational training, highlighting its importance and contribution. MCAST focuses precisely on this and with parttime courses it ensures that not only individuals who are in the
field but individuals who are seeking to diversify their work portfolio engage in different training courses. A diversified labour market is a must. The more training the labour force has, the more it is able to adapt to socio-economic changes. Vocational training is becoming a driver of economic growth and prosperity. In fact, one can notice that vocational training can also assist individuals to make the transition from unemployment to employment, hence contributing to the improvement of the local economy.
Employees need further encouragement to diversify their skills especially in the dynamic socio economic scenarios we are currently living in. Policies need to focus on ensuring that vocational training is directed towards economic needs and cooperation projects with European counterparts are to be encouraged since exchange of best practices will assist in this regard.
MCESD 280/3, Republic Street, Valletta, VLT1112 Tel: (+356) 2200 3300 www.mcesd.org.mt VOICE OF THE
THE EUROPEAN CENTRE FOR WORKERSâ€™ QUESTIONS (EZA) has published in 2014 an Education and Training Programme which foresees a series of very interesting seminars
From 2014 onwards, the Centre will place particular emphasis on a number of Areas of Critical Importance (ACI), covering different sectors.All standard courses are open to candidates with grants or their own sources of funding. These candidates should apply directly to the Centre
In addition at this link you can download the latest newsletter and get the latest news from EZA: http://tinyurl.com/qdgvz5l
The programme of seminars and brochure is available here: http://tinyurl.com/nu4vrvg
More information available here: http://tinyurl.com/o8l99bg
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THE INTERNATIONAL TRAINING CENTRE OF THE ILO The Centre offers short standard courses, academies, tailor-made learning events, comprehensive training projects, advisory services and the design and production of training material. It also offers Masters and other Postgraduate courses run by its Turin School of Development.
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UĦM Voice of the Workers eMagazine issue 20