EU Exchange for a Better Tomorrow - Part 1

15 May 2017
As part of the 'Learning Today for a Better Tomorrow' project (2015-2017), we undertook a professional exchange in collaboration with Skills for Work. The delegation of eight comprised of the European Projects Officer at AONTAS, three Skills for Work staff, including their National Coordinator and four Skills for Work learners, coming from diverse backgrounds.

The delegation met in February 2017 to undertake a Media and Public Relations training. The purpose of the training was to familiarise all participants with media interviews (radio, television) as well as to learn how to take high quality videos and photos. The participants also learnt how to blog.

During the training, the group undertook a needs-based assessment to decipher the new skills the group would like to acquire whilst in Malta. Based on the findings of the assessment as well as group discussion, it was decided that an interpersonal skills training would be most beneficial.

Over three days (24th -27th April 2017), the delegation was hosted by the Malta Ministry of Education and Employment who organised a stimulating and busy programme of activities. In part 1 of our blog the participants talk about the highlights of their trip.

Teresa  Mhic Fhionnghaile and Marian Mhic Pháidín , Skills for Work Participants, Mná an Tí, Donegal

We visited the Institute of Tourism Studies and met with the Director of Corporate Affairs who introduced the work of the Institute to us. Like Ireland, there’s a huge tourism industry in Malta and the college has all the training necessary for the students who will be employed for the tourism industry.

We had a special interest in this visit because of our role as a Mná an Tí, in particular as we had undertaken a course on special dietary needs with Skills for Work Donegal ETB.

We gowned up for hygiene purposes and then took a tour of where the food preparation takes place. In the kitchen, we met with the chef, who explained how the learners are trained. He had even visited Ireland and he told us about how much he appreciated Irish cuisine.

Food which is prepared by the learners is then served in two restaurants within the Institute. The restaurants are so popular, we were unable to get a booking!

We found the visit very interesting and inspiring, in particular speaking with the chef about food preparation and serving.

Marian Lynch, National Coordinator, Skills for Work

The first day of the EU exchange for a Better Tomorrow in Malta was very interesting.

Our visit to the Institute of Tourism Studies in St Julians was hosted by  the Director of Corporate Services was very informative and explained the vast range of courses available to participants.

Approximately 2,000 participants engage in study – with four fifths being international students. Many of these international students originate from Albania and other North African countries.

Some courses take up to 2 years which include 1 year training in work placements. There is a growing demand now for staff working in the tourism industry to have formal qualifications.

We undertook a tour of the facilities and our guide Luke Borg, Business Development Officer, explained the high standards of learning and health and safety throughout the Institute.

During the visit, AONTAS and Skills for work were given an opportunity to explain how the Irish education system works, discussing strategies and recruitment processes, including the increasing demand for recognised qualifications for work.

It was a fantastic opportunity for Skills for Work to promote its involvement in workplace education. Skills for Work educational programmes aim to enhance the adult learners’ lives, work, and community development.

Skills for Work participants also shared how they first became involved in the programmes. Participants explained how they had benefitted personally, and professionally from the Skills for Work programmes.

Nuala Nejati, Skills for Work Regional Coordinator,  William Kellett, Geodis, and Adrian Moore, Irish Rail

We enjoyed the afternoon Interpersonal Skills training. We found the lecture very interesting on many different fronts. We covered self-awareness, self-control and many other different aspects in relation to leadership and empowerment. We felt the training was very challenging in terms of the content. There was a lot of psychology which was quite advanced at a leaders’ level.

We all undertook a personality test. It was excellent and a true reflection of ourselves. It was extremely good fun and very revealing. It’s good to know that we can all change and how to improve our skills.

We really loved being back in the classroom and debating. The lecturer, Mr Jesmond Friggieri, was very interesting and he discussed every subject openly and thoroughly. He gave sufficient time for discussion and debate and at no time did we every feel rushed. He took all our points on board, even if he was challenging them. We were equals.

Saorlaith Ni Bhroin, European Projects Officer, AONTAS

Our final stop of the day was with the Ambassador of Ireland, Padraig Mac Coscair. The delegation was thrilled to be hosted by the Ambassador at the Irish Embassy. The Ambassador warmly welcomed the delegation and conveyed his appreciation and interest in the work of AONTAS, Skills for Work and the learners. The Ambassador himself is a lifelong learner and discussed the benefits he has experienced of lifelong learning.

The Ambassador explained the role of the Embassy in Malta, and its current priorities under the Malta EU Presidency. He receives Ministers on a regular basis and is responsible for sharing pertinent information regarding national affairs in Malta as well as conveying EU developments when appropriate.

The delegation introduced their work to the Ambassador and the learners spoke of their experiences as participants in the Skills for Work programmes. We were delighted that the Ambassador was able to take time from his busy schedule to meet with us.