As part of an EU-funded project, MCAST, in collaboration, the Malta Institute of Tourism and the Malta Qualifications Council and with the support of the Malta Chamber of Commerce are launching 100 free training courses to provide suitable skills in 10 different industries.

The short courses will provide training to current or future employees in the Beverages, Financial Services, Food, Furniture, ICT, Infrastructure, Maritime, Pharmaceuticals and Chemicals, Plastics and Printing sectors, over a period of two years.

The first phase of the project included identifying the industries that were most lacking in a skilled workforce and identifying the individual skills required. Industries were chosen according to those that were in most urgent need of skilled labour either as a result of the growing market, as in the pharmaceutical and chemical market, or due to a declining market that requires a fresh influx of skills.

Joseph Farrugia, President of MCAST said that “synergy between industry and education” is what will contribute to the success of the programme. He highlighted the importance of the fact that industry representatives are being directly involved in the design of the courses, making sure that they truly provide the skills that the industry requires and that can make individuals more employable. “Malta’s ability to survive and grow in the current adverse global economic conditions relies strongly on its ability to adapt to a changing economic environment, which in turn depends on the flexibility and quality of its labour force. Through this project, the country will not only be upgrading the skills of its people, but will also match these skills with the requirements of numerous sectors,” he concluded.

Almost 70% of respondents, out of a sample of 145 companies, indicated that they actively encourage their employees to take up lifelong learning courses, while 80% consider such continuous training as an important factor for career advancement.

Initially the programme was intended to provide training for 450 individuals, however as a result of the initial response it has been estimated that an average of 4,000 individuals per year will be trained. Amanda Borg of E-Cubed Consultants, the company contracted to assist in this study, said that this figure was still likely to increase as a public call will also be made and this has not been taken into account in the research.