EU Exchange for a Better Tomorrow - Part 2

15 May 2017
AONTAS is the National Coordinator for the European Agenda for Adult Learning in Ireland. As part of the Learning Today for a Better Tomorrow project (2015-2017), AONTAS in collaboration with Skills for Work, undertook ‘EU Exchange for a Better Tomorrow’, a professional exchange. In part 2 of our 'EU Exchange for a Better Tomorrow' blog the particpants give some reflections on their trip to Malta.

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

Our first visit on our second day of the exchange was to the Malta College of Arts Science and Technology (MCAST). Its mission is to provide vocational and professional education and training with an international dimension responsive to the needs of the individual and the economy.

A presentation was delivered on the various training offered as well as the levels delivered at MCAST. Established in 2001, MCAST has 6,700 full-time students and adult learners across three colleges: Foundation, Technology and University. The College has extensive networks, including government and industrial partners working in collaboration. The migration crisis has also led to an increase in migrant learners in the college.

Dr. Nadia Maria Vassallo is the Director for Curriculum. Nadia’s presentation was extremely motivational. She is a very innovative and this comes out in her tutoring. She spoke of thinking outside the box, and using social media to aid learning in modern Malta.

The college also has a Learning Support Unit, which consists of small group tuition in key skills such as: English, Maltese, Maths, IT, Science and Individual and Social Responsibility. Oftentimes learners haven’t decided what exactly they want to pursue, hence this allows for greater reflection and flexibility.

We were brought on a tour of the facilities and workshops following Nadia’s presentation.

We went on the following day to visit the Toyota Showroom and Garage who employ many of the graduates from MCAST. Those on apprenticeships, spend 2-3 days per week in the classroom and the remaining time in the workplace.

It was very helpful to link both visits as it brought together the understanding of how the systems operate in Malta in relation to workplace learning.

Malta does not have a developed Skills for Work-like programme which targets lower levels of literacy, numeracy and IT. Workplace learners however, are well integrated into Adult Education Centres.

Teresa Mhic Fhionnghaile and Marian Mhic Pháidín , Skills for Work Participants

We were really interested to join a class on HR Management with Maltese learners. There were a total of 8 Maltese learners, so we introduced ourselves to them. We are both self-employed, so it was very helpful to talk through setting targets and keeping them SMART (specific measurable achievable, relevant and time-bound).

Our tutor, Theresa was absolutely fantastic. Her energy and enthusiasm was infectious and she held our attention for three hours. Her humour and interest in our lives in Ireland made us feel part of the class and included in the exercises. We really enjoyed the group work and speaking to the Maltese learners about their own interpersonal skills’ development.

As Bean an Tí, we are committed to high standards for our visitors and we provide support and mentoring to one another informally. We shared our own experiences with the class, who were very interested in our culture and work.

Final Thoughts 

“I have gained confidence speaking in public. I especially enjoyed the Human Resources presentation which is very relevant to all workplaces. I can take some pointers home to use in my own workplace."

“Our group used Whatsapp and Social Media to share information and photos on the trip. I have learnt to use these during the trip, so I have improved my IT skills.”

“I have developed my communications skills through the HR training. I will have a different approach to promoting Skills for Work going forward with companies. I have also learned about my personality type, through the personality test and I’ll be more aware of this in the future. Finally, I learned that I love being in the classroom as a student and I will look at returning to the classroom to undertake a course in management as a result of this exchange.”