Career Guidance in Malta

"Career guidance refers to services and activities intended to assist individuals of any age and at any point throughout their lives, to make educational, training and occupational choices and to manage their careers." (OECD, 2004)

In Malta there is universal access to career information and career guidance. All national and foreign citizens are entitled to career support services. The services are provided mainly by two established publicly funded systems.

Education

Schools have the main responsibility for career and educational guidance. The  Ministry for Education, Sport, Youth, Research and Innovation (MEYR), through the National School Support Services (NSSS), Directorate for Educational Services (DES) is responsible for the organisation of career guidance and counselling services in the state primary, middle, secondary education and Sixth Forms including Giovanni Curmi Higher Secondary School, GEM 16+ and Sir Michelangelo Refalo Sixth Form.  The service is also available at MCAST, the Junior College and the University of Malta. The Education Act (Chap 327, 1988, 1991) ensures that learners have access to vocational and career guidance services, including programmes aimed at achieving improved school-workplace coordination, and assist in the transition stages, including those from school to work.

Within Sixth Forms, following lower-secondary education, learners are provided with career guidance services, including individual and group career guidance, opportunities to attend career fairs, talks by prospective employers and tertiary institution representatives.

Within vocational post-secondary institutions, career education is integrated into all vocational subjects and transition skills are developed in cooperation with local employment services as learners are provided with work-based learning opportunities. All learners have access to individual and group career guidance and opportunities to participate in career-related events, such as fairs and talks.

For State higher education, provided by the University of Malta, learners also have access to career guidance services, for prospective and current learners, through the Student Advisory Services.

Public Employment Service (PES)

Jobsplus (Malta’s national Public Employment Service) coordinates the employment policy actions for employed and unemployed individuals. Access for specific client groups is facilitated through the vast coordination and cooperation partnerships. Jobsplus is regulated by the Employment and Training Services Act (2019). The organisation includes a head office and several Job Centres in Malta and Gozo. The career services provided include: career advice, jobseeker profiling, the development of personalised action plans, the provision of exposure schemes, training services, job matching placements and access to quality information on the labour market.

EU nationals and their family members, asylum seekers and migrants with a protection status, as well as third country nationals who are living and working in Malta can also access targeted Jobsplus guidance services.

A number of private recruitment agencies also operate in Malta, but their main function is that of matching the individual with employment opportunities.

The Career Guidance Policy for Schools (2007) is the major career guidance framework for policy development in the field in Malta. It led to the formal division of career guidance from personal counselling within the public education sector, hence the provision of two separate services to learners. This policy ensured that all learners within compulsory schooling have access to career guidance by specialized career guidance practitioners – a new infrastructure of career guidance practitioners, besides the existing guidance teachers, who provide their services (on a full-time basis) to learners in both primary and secondary schooling. Since August 2017 this service has been extended to a number of post-secondary institutions.

The policy also led to an increased focus on the topic of careers within the Personal and Social Development Programme (PSD) within schools, a subject that was eventually renamed Personal, Social and Career Development (PSCD). This change ensured access to career education for all young people in compulsory schooling.

There is no formal setup of a National Guidance Forum, however opportunities for collaboration between stakeholders involved in the delivery of lifelong guidance exist. The aim of such collaboration is to enhance the development of a lifelong guidance system and the collaboration between public and private guidance stakeholders, to support the professionalisation of the career guidance practitioners and to promote successful career guidance practices. Collaboration exists between representatives from:

•   Euroguidance Malta

•   The National Schools Support Services (NSSS), Directorate for Educational Services,  Ministry for Education, Sport, Youth, Research and Innovation (MEYR)

•   The Directorate for Curriculum, Lifelong Learning and Employability

•   The National Skills Council, MEYR

•   Representative bodies of workers and employers

•   Jobsplus (Malta’s Public Employment Service)

•   Post-Secondary Educational Institutions

•   The University of Malta

•   Private Educational Providers

•   European Union Programmes Agency

•   National Commission for Further and Higher Education

•   The Malta Career Guidance Association (MCGA)

•   Non-Governmental Organisations involved in the delivery of career guidance,

•   Employers/employer representatives

The main providers for the training of career guidance practitioners in Malta is the Center for Labour Studies in collaboration with the Faculty of Education, University of Malta. As from October 2016 a Master’s Degree Course in Lifelong Career Guidance and Development is being offered to individuals wishing to further their education in the area.

The National School Support Services organises training in collaboration with national entities in the areas of hospitality/tourism, health, education, ICT, science and health care, engineering and transport amongst others. Career advisors and guidance teachers within the state education sector are required to attend continuous professional development training during each scholastic year. The Institute for Education also organises an MQF Level 7 Qualification entitled ‘Award in an Understanding of Career Guidance and Development’ for practitioners who are entering the field or for those who want to enhance their skills in the area. This latter initiative was financed by EG Malta.

The Malta Career Guidance Association (MCGA) also organises training events for its members on a yearly basis. Each year, in collaboration with Euroguidance Center Malta, it organises the Euroguidance National Conference besides other training events. All career guidance practitioners within the education and employment sectors are invited to attend. MCGA is working towards the professionalisation of its members. The role of Euroguidance Malta is of utmost importance in strengthening the competences of guidance practitioners through the funding and organisation of continuous professional development initiatives within the education and employment sectors.

The competences required by employment advisors at Jobsplus have changed over the years with developments in ICT, as well as the need to adapt to the needs of specific groups such as migrants and refugees, long-term unemployed and people with disability. It is in this regard that Jobsplus supports regular training for employment advisers to ensure that these practitioners are knowledgeable and sufficiently confident in working with different groups of people, to deal with a range of challenges and constant changes occurring.

Gathering evidence about the career guidance activities and developing monitoring studies is a shared responsibility between the following stakeholders:

•   National Statistics Office (research about Labour market and Education)

•   Jobsplus (statistics about the Employment sectors)

•   Malta Further and Higher Education Authority (statistics about further and higher education)

•   University of Malta (Graduate tracer studies)

•   National entities representing employment sectors (statistics about the tourism, health, engineering, education, ICT sectors amongst others)

The National School Support Services employs a number of career guidance professionals who provide their services within State Colleges in both primary, secondary schools and post-secondary institutions which include:

Guidance Teachers who carry out personal and career guidance interventions, apart from their teaching load.

Career advisors who work full time on career guidance. The latter generally hold an MQF Level 6 qualification in a social science related subject including but not limited to Sociology, Youth & Community Studies, Social Studies, Psychology and Social Policy amongst others and a level 7 qualification in Lifelong Career Guidance, Human Resources and related areas.

Career Guidance Teachers who are based at NSSS and assist on a national level with the provision of placements for the Career Exposure initiative (an initiative whereby Year 10 learners spend five days shadowing a career of their preference at a place of work), organise orientation visits to places of work for Year 9 learners, provide learners with one to one career guidance sessions and provide online support.

Career Advisors are responsible for the coordination of career guidance within individual colleges which includes organizing one-week career orientation experiences at the places of work, career orientation visits, talks by employers, career fairs, visits and talks by post-secondary institution representatives. Their work is complemented by that of guidance teachers. Quality standards at College level are monitored by the Education Officers (Career Guidance). Church and Independent Schools and Post-Secondary Institutions also provide career guidance to their learners.

Jobsplus, Malta’s Public Employment Service, provides specialised services for adults. An employment advisor is required to be in possession of an MQF Level 6 in a social science related subject including but not limited to Lifelong Career Guidance, Human Resources, Sociology, Social Studies, Psychology, Geography, Management and Social Work amongst others. Newly recruited Employment Advisors are then required to undergo an extensive induction programme. Jobsplus also carries out continuous quality checks on both the profiling and guidance given to job seekers by all of its advisors. For new recruits, these quality checks are intensified. Jobsplus Malta aims at enhancing “accessibility to the labour market through modernised and targeted services, whilst facilitating labour mobility and promoting investment in human capital. Jobsplus, through employment advisors, offers job placements as well as career guidance to adults.

A number of private employment agencies are also present, focusing mainly on job placements.

The Malta Career Guidance Association (MCGA) is the national guidance association in Malta which aims to promote the delivery of high quality career guidance services. It is working on the local level in strengthening the career guidance service, in setting up standards for professional practice and in developing its ethical guidelines for correct professional conduct among guidance practitioners working in the education and employment sectors. Each guidance practitioner is knowledgeable of the fact that he/she is bound by respective work ethics in line with the Respect for All Framework (2014).

Guidance teachers who are also teachers are also expected to abide by the teachers’ code of ethics. Ethical issues are an integral part of guidance practitioners’ training too.

Within the compulsory education state sector Education Officers are responsible for monitoring the career guidance service within the State Colleges. Currently there are two Education Officers who conduct this work. Education Officers regularly meet with Principal Education Support Practitioners (Career Advisors) and Educational Support Practitioners (Career Advisors) to evaluate and gather feedback about career guidance initiatives. The latter are also requested to send a yearly report outlining the career guidance interventions undertaken in an individual and group setting in the colleges. Jobsplus also carries out continuous quality checks on both the profiling and guidance given to job seekers by all of its advisors.