Long gone are the days of having a job for life and of pre-determined professions remaining unchanged over decades. The future growth of our economy, within a dynamic European situation, as well as globalisation emerging trends, depends very much on our people – our workforce. The European Union is reacting to this context through the ‘New Skills Agenda for Europe’, published in June 2016.

The document builds on the priorities to invest in up-skilling the workforce for a more resilient, competitive and sustainable economy; the need to build and integrate older workers, women, young graduates and migrants into the labour market; the need to build stronger links between education and employment; the need to make VET more attractive and the needs to harness the potential of informal and non-formal learning including learning on the workplace, learning online and learning through civic participation.

Malta joins the European Union in commitment to address the challenges of ensuring that our labour force is fully equipped, not necessarily with qualifications, but with skills that respond to challenges of technological progress, digitalisation, globalisation and the move towards a greener economy. A number of initiatives have already been set in motion within the context of the Framework for Education Strategy for Malta 2014-2024 which sets out broad goals for Malta, including the aim to increase lifelong learning and adult learning. These include:

� Upholding a Malta Qualifications Framework which bridges with the European Qualifications Framework thus securing a passport for Maltese qualifications;

� An early school leaving policy to help give alternative options to students who finish their compulsory years with no formal qualifications;

� Piloting vocational subjects in compulsory schooling;

� Setting up the national literacy agency;

� Setting up sector skills units for the validation of informal and non formal learning;

� Scholarships schemes setting out priority areas for pursuing tertiary education;

� The Learning Outcome Framework;

� Employment policies such as the Active Labour Market Policy and the Youth Guarantee;

� The accreditation of alternative and vocational programmes.

Malta is also gearing towards creating more personalised pathways for compulsory schooling. The child will be presented with subject options, within the same school, from multiple streams including academic, vocational and applied subjects. Such subjects will create the foundations for a wider exposure of possible skills to be eventually developed further later on in life. The hands on approach within compulsory schooling build on the understanding that different students learn in different ways and each individual has the right to explore his potential.

The Lifelong Learning Policy for Malta, in outlining the necessary structural mechanism to gear Malta towards a more proactive approach, foresees the setting up a National Skills Council with the strategic aim of labour market understanding of necessary skills preparations. The Council, composed of educational delegates, industry representatives, civil society, and lifelong learning specialists, will direct studies, propose and plan strategies and training aimed at reducing labour shortages, improving skills and meetings market demands.

The Council has been directed to recommend policy direction to the Minister based on evidence garnered in Malta. It is also expected to act as a broker between employers and education providers and to stimulate structural and administrative changes which can assist in redirecting resources and skills into emerging industry sectors.

The Council will operate under the direction of Prof Joseph Cilia together with Dr Alex Grech as deputy chairperson. Members include Prof Godfrey Baldacchino, Mr Vince Maione, Ms Mariella Vella, Mr Martin Borg, Mr Anton Borg, Ms Audrey Genovese, Mr Ben Rizzo, Mr Clayton Cutajar, Mr Joseph Caruana, Mr Louis Naudi and Mr Joseph Bugeja.

Source: Government of Malta.