Vocational education and training (VET) has been an essential ingredient within the Maltese educational system for several years. VET provides the economy with a solid foundation of professional and skilled employees in different sectors.

The value of VET is recognised by national initiatives such as the My Journey project which introduced applied and vocational subjects as a learning route alongside traditional academic routes in compulsory secondary education.

As the island’s largest VET institution, the Malta College of Arts, Science and Technology (MCAST) is at the forefront in providing high-quality programmes that cater to the needs of students, industry and the country. Vocational education and training programmes cover practically the whole spectrum of the Malta Qualification Framework with programmes ranging from introductory Level A and reaching up to master’s level.

Learners need to have meaningful experiences that provide apt learning opportunities. Such experiences need to be pertinent and receptive to current times. Following an MCAST programme does not only entail learning sectoral-specific skills and related underpinning knowledge. Holistic education is an all-inclusive approach whereby educators seek to address learners’ educational and life requirements. Emphasis is placed on a learner’s growth, focusing on values, ethics, emotional and social development.

Education and training programmes in a vocational and professional context include all the students’ learning experiences at the college, including the design and development of relevant programmes, key skills, entrepreneurship, inclusive education and learning support.

VET learners possess hands-on experience coupled with sound theoretical foundations − a perfect combination for today’s dynamic labour market

Through its programmes, MCAST adds value and prepares students for a dynamic world of work, while providing the necessary skills for learners to reflect and prepare for their future both as citizens and as potential entrepreneurs of the future.

The college ensures that its programmes are relevant and responsive to the continually changing needs of different stakeholders. It also fulfils such needs if stakeholders are directly involved in the design, development, implementation and review of MCAST’s programmes. As part of the development or cyclical review of any programme, input from industry, students (current or alumni) and lecturers is crucial. This is not just for the sake of procedural compliance.

On the contrary, MCAST is continuously strengthening such links to provide a valuable and relevant learning experience. Relations with industry are further enhanced through work-based learning. The latter is at the heart of vocational education and training programmes and can take different forms such as placements, apprenticeships, internships and live cases. This educational strategy provides learners with real-life work experiences to apply what they learn at the college. Employability is enhanced through such work experiences that also contribute to the holistic development of learners.

Two other critical initiatives within the college’s portfolio include the recently-launched Bachelor in Vocational Education and Training (Honours) and the Master’s in Vocational Education Applied Research 4.0. Both programmes provide key pedagogical competences while addressing the challenges posed by the fourth industrial revolution, which brings a series of social, political, cultural and economic impacts, presented by recent advances in technology. Both courses will also provide a new job in industry: a person who can assist apprentices and ensures that the learning process continues at the place of work.

Vocational education and training is not an alternative to traditional academic programmes. In today’s educational scenario, vocational and professional education and training (VET) enjoy the same parity of esteem. Through MCAST, VET is one of the many choices available for learners who wish to pursue further and higher education opportunities, both following their time in compulsory education or as part of a wide-ranging personal plan for lifelong learning.

The Malta Qualifications Framework presents VET programmes side by side with other academic programmes. Learners must be reassured that choosing to pursue a vocational education and training route does not mean that they are not up to standard or receive a second-class form of education. The value of VET lies in the provision of relevant real-world job skills and holistic learning experiences while focusing on ensuring learners are employable.

In Europe and in many other parts of the world, employers are putting VET graduates on top of their job offers. VET learners possess hands-on experience coupled with sound theoretical foundations − a perfect combination for today’s dynamic labour market.  

Ramon Mangion, director, education and training programmes and learning 
support, MCAST

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