Fabian Demicoli

Apprentice scheme to respond better to SME needs

 GRTU Council Member Marcel Mizzi participated in a meeting concerning the revamping and restructuring of apprentice schemes. This was a consultation meeting which aimed to get the GRTU's feedback together with that of other bodies.


The aim of this meeting was to get our feedback and the feedback from other bodies regarding the restructuring of the current apprenticeship schemes. In attendance were Mr. Cutajar (CEO of ETC) and several representatives from employers. The meeting was hosted at MCAST by Prof Maurice Grech.

MCAST is looking into the restructuring of the current schemes, which were in fact working but not up to expectations, with the aim of increasing the number of sponsors willing to take on apprentices. The main problem is that some of the practical experiences that students required were not being met by the employers. This was usually because the employer in question could not provide the experience in that subject matter due to their business model. It was suggested that the way forward would be to define exactly what type of practical experience is required and when looking for sponsors. A number of sponsors might be required in order to cater for all the experience required.

Mr Mizzi on behalf of GRTU enquired on how many of the apprentices were being taken up by micro and small enterprises. ETC said that more than half were being employed by SMEs with less then 10 employees. GRTU suggested that as part of the restructuring the scheme would be packaged in such a way to increase its attractiveness to SMEs. In GRTU's opinion the idea of listing the practical competences and having apprentices change employers may in fact further discourage SMEs from participating.

GRTU suggested closer cooperation with SME organisations such as GRTU and to set up an effective channel of communication so that MCAST would be aware of their competences and needs. Thought must be given to designing apprentices which are more responsive to SME needs. SMEs would not be comfortable with having their apprentice change employers as they would fear leaks about sensitive information. MCAST understood this point and would welcome further input in this direction for the re-design.

MCAST are currently looking into the possibility of acquiring EU funding for the newly designed scheme. A pilot project is planned dealing with a different areas and the performance of the new changes would be assessed in this way.

A follow-up meeting is being planned shortly and a half day workshop will be organised soon to discuss a way forward.

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