3.4 Career guidance and counselling
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Career guidance and counselling services
In 2019, the Maltese Government launched the Policy on Inclusive Education in Schools: Route to Quality Inclusion in schools. The Policy is in line with the education strategy of the Ministry for Education (MFED) since it promotes the setting of an inclusive school environment that ensures that all learners have the opportunity to obtain the necessary skills and attitudes to be active citizens and to succeed at work and in society. The Policy adopts a wide definition of inclusion which covers:
- learners with special needs;
- learners with different sexual orientations;
- learners from ethnic minorities and different religions;
- high ability learners.
The National Inclusive Education Framework, also launched in 2019, builds upon the Inclusive Education in Schools: Route to Quality Inclusion in schools; and strives to create clarity around the concept of inclusive education and synergy among the various services dealing with diversity issues in schools. Moreover, the themes entrenched within the framework ensure that the concept of equity is upheld in all College and School Development Plans (SDP). The SDPs are supported through the provision of specialized training to College Principals and Heads of Schools.
The career guidance service under the remit of the National School Support Services (NSSS) within the Ministry for Education holds a number of initiatives in State colleges in order to entice students’ attendance and guide them on how to see the relevance of schooling with the world of work. Professionals work in a multi-disciplinary team in order to make schooling attractive for students and develop tailor-made programmes to reduce the risk of early school leavers. All students are encouraged towards further education in order to better equip themselves and acquire the necessary skills for the world of work.
Practitioners within the Safe Schools Program, which incorporates
- the Child Safety Services (dealing with potential and actual child abuse cases);
- the Anti-Bullying Service;
- Anti-Substance Abuse Service.
provide support to learners attending State and non-State schools (schools in the Church and Independent sectors) to support young people at risk of becoming early school leavers.
The National School Support Services (NSSS) offers other educational opportunities for students with a disability who have finished compulsory school, namely the Dun Manwel Attard Young Adult Resource Centre and the Helen Keller Resource Centre.
The career guidance service within the Ministry for Education contributes towards the career development as well as personal and social development of students, within a holistic approach. This includes initiatives to support students’ subject/career option choices and transitions from primary to secondary education and from secondary to post-secondary education and/or work. Career guidance services are delivered in schools by Principal Education Support Practitioners (Career Advisors), and guidance teachers through a variety of face-to-face provisions, such as on a one-to-one basis as well as in small and large groups. Career guidance services are also offered at the Malta College of Arts, Science and Technology (MCAST), Institute of Tourism Studies, Junior College, Higher Secondary, and the University of Malta.
The transition co-ordinator support Year 11 students with Individual Educational Needs on the different opportunities that meet the needs of the student. This will ensure that the best possible choice of provisions is made for each student. The transition co-ordinator helps in the transition programme from secondary mainstream to post-16 provision or from Education Resource Centres to other post-16 provisions, Adult Services or employment opportunities. The Transition co-ordinator organises orientation visits to the different provisions and prepare profiles and action plans for each student’s transition programme.
The career guidance platform, www.exploremoreproject.eu/mt provides all the information needed, such as careers within specific sectors by means of videos, a quiz/personality test which determines one’s career aptitudes and a description of several post-secondary courses and the respective entry requirements for students to decide on which career path they will choose.
Other services include:
- Talks by employers, career orientation visits and one-week career exposure experiences for students at the place of work.
- I Choose Fair - a public event where all post-secondary educational institutions and entities are represented under one roof, with the aim of helping students to overcome difficulties and doubts related to their future career paths.
- Euroguidance Malta - which organises continuous professional development opportunities for career guidance practitioners within the education and employment sectors ensuring that practitioners are better equipped to guide students or adults accordingly. This falls under the remit of the National Schools Support Services within the Ministry for Education in collaboration with other entities such as the Malta Career Guidance Association.
- Interactive career websites aim of addressing the information given to young people aged 11-15 about their future career choices.
The following are initiatives being taken from an employment perspective:
- The Jobseekers’ Advisory Services Unit within the Maltese Public Employment Service, Jobsplus, offers career guidance services to both jobseekers and job changers.
- The Maltese Public Employment Service, Jobsplus, offers both:
- Individualised Career Guidance
- Support in developing a Personalised Action Plan (PAP) for employment
The career guidance provided varies according to the needs and level of the individual. The intervention may involve face-to-face meetings (where together with the advisor the jobseeker will discuss the current situation, options and develop a Personalised Action Plan), or else opt for advice over the phone or by e-mail.
Amongst other things the advisor can help a jobseeker:
- Choose their career
- Plan and set goals
- Search for a job
- Apply for a job
- Prepare for a job interview
As part of a general PAP, the initial session would also involve the provision of information on where to search for jobs, local training opportunities and relevant Jobsplus services such as short courses, work exposure schemes, traineeships and any other Jobsplus initiatives. In addition to these mainstream services, Jobsplus also offers specialized Inclusive Employment Services which are specifically designed to help disadvantaged individuals who have a harder time finding work. These include:
- Individuals with disability
- Former substance abusers
- Former prison inmates
- Other people with different social problems
Apart from providing career guidance, employment advisors play an important role in matching Youth Guarantee participants with employers. Youths who are registering with the Public Employment Service meet with the youth employment advisors so that a profiling exercise is conducted. Following the profiling phase, a personal action plan is designed, and training services are offered to assist the young person in developing the skills and competences needed in a fluctuating labour market.
The Jobseekers Advisory Unit within the Maltese Public Employment Service, Jobsplus, keeps contact with several educational entities, agencies and non-governmental organisations that work with youths. Through these stakeholders, Jobsplus offers several services to young people, including; information sessions, workshops, career tests, tailor made mock interviews and short training sessions amongst others to youths coming from different educational attainments and backgrounds. Jobsplus also participates in several activities, such as career days, which are organised by other entities. Due to the restrictions imposed by the Covid-19 Pandemic, the Jobseekers Advisory Unit had to bring to a halt the information and training sessions amongst youths in educational institutions. However, staff members are working and adapting the sessions in order to be able to carry them out online, however this is still a working in progress.
The Youth Guarantee, while providing counselling and guidance on how to transition from inactivity to gainful employment it provides a second chance of education, work exposure and traineeship. Jobsplus was entrusted with the responsibility for the overall co-ordination and implementation of the Youth Guarantee, including profiling, assessment of registering youths who are currently unemployed and providing other services. These services include the setting up of personal action plan for each individual, offering them advisory services with regards to the labour market, guidance on the development of employability skills and introducing active labour market measures such as traineeships. Moreover, Jobsplus, also monitors the implementation of the Youth Guarantee through the Indicator Framework for Monitoring the Youth Guarantee.
In response to the effects of covid-19, enhanced digital tools have been provided through the Youth Guarantee as an effective response to a number of priorities, including:
- engaging youths who are at risk of becoming Early School Leavers and falling within the NEET category;
- Connecting educators and learners with each other when in separate locations;
- Providing vulnerable participants and their families with limited financial resources, with an additional source of income.
The list of training modules has been expanded to include a wider range of industry related courses at different MQF levels. In addition to offering training and mentoring offline in a traditional format, a bespoke digital platform has been built specifically for the Youth Guarantee. All training modules have been converted online and the digital modules developed are being used to strengthen the participants digital skills. Enhanced youth mentoring has been put in place throughout all phases of the scheme. Outreach activities have also been enhanced to include partnerships with youth NGO’s in different localities across Malta.
Additionally, EURES (European Employment Service) Malta provides advice and guidance to all EU/EEA/Swiss nationals including youths regarding mobility. The EURES unit within Jobsplus advises interested individuals on how to search for a job in another country. Interested individuals are put in touch with the EURES network in the country they wish to move to as it is the EURES advisers in the country of destination that are best placed to assist them about procedures and processes. EURES Malta also directs persons to the EURES Portal (www.eures.europa.eu) where they can find job opportunities and living and working information for all member states. Jobsplus also advises people on the appropriate administrative processes to be undertaken locally before someone relocates (i.e. inform tax department, transfer of social benefits, etc). EURES Malta also provides assistance to any incoming EU/EEA/Swiss nationals including youths in order to help them find a job in Malta, how to register as unemployed, and provides information about living and working conditions in Malta.
All compulsory education services mentioned above are public-funded for state schools.
Residential school – Addressing children’s holistic needs in a safe environment: (as at 23 November 2020):
- 0.000028% over recurrent budget amounting to €347,308,000;
- 0.00045% over capital budget amounting to €88,771,000.
Furthermore, youth initiatives in Malta including schemes such as the Youth Guarantee are funded by both EU and national funds. Initiatives targeting youths undertaken by the Maltese Public Employment Service, Jobseekers Advisory Unit are however directly funded through national funds.
At the Malta College of Arts, Science and Technology (MCAST) and Institute of Tourism Studies (ITS), there are counselling and career guidance policies and procedures which are adhered to so that quality is ensured. At the University of Malta, the Health and Wellness Centre at the University of Malta offers services aimed at enhancing the wellness of University of Malta staff and students.
Furthermore, Malta’s Public Employment Service, Jobsplus, has additionally instilled a number of additional quality checks within its Jobseekers Advisory function. The respective Unit Managers are now accessing samples of jobseeker profiles for each Employment Advisor in order to check that the data was inputted correctly. Another check is also being carried out on the outcome of the Personal Action Plan appointments and the agreement reached between the Employment Advisor and the jobseeker. Following these checks, feedback is given to the respective Employment Advisor. These checks are documented in Quality check forms.