"Education is a shared responsibility." These were the introductory words of Ms Marisa Xuereb, Deputy President of the Malta Chamber, who was speaking at a conference organised by the Ministry for Education and Employment (MEDE) on the 14th of October as part of the European Vocational Skills week activities in Malta. The theme of the conference was the 'Challenges of skills shortages and the role of Industry in VET'. Ms Xuereb was a keynote speaker and spoke of the need to invest in today's generation to meet the future Vocational Education and Training (VET) needs.
She gave a detailed explanation of what the Chamber and businesses are doing in bridging the gap between industry and academia and elaborated on the need to solve our chronic problem in sourcing skilled employees. She referred to the recently published World Economic Forum Global Competitiveness Index, which amongst other factors analysed, placed Malta 121 out of 141 countries in terms of ease of finding skilled employees.
Ms Xuereb listed the key challenges in achieving better results, such as the country's high rate of early school leavers and youths who are not in Employment, Education or Training (NEETs), mainstreaming VET in all secondary schools, not just state ones, and investing further in MCAST's capacity.
Ms Xuereb spoke of the need for Industry and education to gear up for the future and explained that the skills of future will mainly focus on soft skills, such as thinking skills like problem solving, people skills like leadership and communication, and self-enrichment ones like entrepreneurship. She explained that, "These are all soft skills that are not specific to any particular job, because really and truly, a lot of jobs that will be filled by students in secondary school today have yet to be created. These are the sort of skills that need to be taught through VET programs."
She also spoke of the need for Industry to be more involved in education, and explained that the Chamber is doing its part by collaborating closely with MCAST and the Education department through a series of projects. This includes the media campaign 'MAKE IT', which was aimed at promoting careers in Malta's manufacturing sector amongst secondary and post-secondary students and their parents, as well as offering work based learning opportunities to Form 3 and Form 4 students amongst the business community.
Other speakers during this conference included Ministers Evarist Bartolo and Konrad Mizzi, senior officials from MEDE, Jobsplus, NCFHE,MCAST, University of Malta, Institute of Tourism Studies, business organisations and companies.