Fabian Demicoli

Micro-Enterprises need to be kept at the heart of Apprenticeship Schemes – GRTU

A Country Thematic Review by CEDEFOP (EU Centre for Vocational Training) on Malta’s Apprenticeship Schemes gave an overview of the current systems in order to pave the way forward for reforms in work-based learning tied in order to make vocational training more closely tied to industry needs. This report was presented today at a Stakeholders’ Meeting held at MCAST in Paola.

GRTU applauded the efforts undertaken to bring forward this report as it sheds light on the previous schemes formerly held through ETC, which is a necessary step in order to reform apprenticeships as we know them and integrate them into education to bridge training with the world of work. GRTU agreed on the importance to rebrand apprenticeships, but also argued that the revamping needed to ensure a renewed quality which both students and employers can trust.

GRTU highlighted the need to ensure that the workings of any such schemes need to be feasible and attractive to micro-enterprises and self-employed. Given that the Maltese economy is made up of mostly such small businesses (at a rate which is higher to its EU counterparts), if the apprenticeship schemes are to be successful, they have to be tailor-made to fit the realities and exigencies of the smaller businesses. If the number of opportunities for trainees to acquire apprenticeships is to be widened and boosted, we need to ensure that considerations of small businesses are taken into account, so that even the wide sector of smaller businesses can also participate in offering these opportunities. The situations of these businesses need to identified and the schemes shaped upon them. For instance, self-employed and micro-enterprises will not have HR departments that can be assigned follow-up and handling of apprentices – but they can offer invaluable training opportunities as well. The scheme has to then be communicated and facilitated targeting also these businesses and not only larger employers.

GRTU also advocated the need for an increasing culture of apprenticeships in building an understanding of the benefits of work-based learning. This is should also serve as a spill-over towards linking educators and trainers with the world of work. If students are going to be undergoing apprenticeships to be linked to industry, we also have to ensure that teachers are in touch with the labour market.

Apprenticeships need to be given quality and value by establishing credits and an agreement on recognisable learning outcomes which both the employer and the student agree upon in order to know what training is to be achieved throughout the experience. However this has to be done in a clear and simplified manner that is not burdensome on partaking employers in a way that discourages participation.

In terms of recommendations related to strategic planning concerns, GRTU suggested that the relationship between small businesses and training institutions needs to be solidified. A setup has to be put in place to ensure an ongoing colloquium with industry which also reflects the needs of micro-enterprises and even self-employed. This would serve as a one-stop-shop for training needs and skills matching.

GRTU also welcomed the responsibility of apprenticeships being allocated to MCAST as the major public VET provider. GRTU however added that it would be necessary that MCAST would now also steer a national outreach to employers together with the help of employers’ representatives and support other training providers, both public and private, to also embark tap into the pool of apprenticeships.

 

 

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