Updates to the way the new skills card system will work are currently underway, and the scheme is on track to come into effect next month, after the initial 1st January launch date was pushed back to take businesses’ concerns into account.

In comments made to BusinessNow.mt, a representative for the Ministry for Tourism says that “the skills pass will be introduced in March.”

Asked to clarify whether this means that the new requirements will come into play from 1st March – giving businesses little time to adapt – the representative says that this is not the case.

In fact, “all the details pertaining to this reform will be explained during a press conference in the first days of March addressed by ITS, Identità and Ministers concerned.”

The skills pass had been pushed back in late December, just days before it was set to take effect. At the time, Tourism Minister Clayton Bartolo had said that “we realised we could make some changes that will leave us with a more practical system and which guarantees the industry has the workers it needs.”

As per the terms released last October, the reform will ensure that tourism workers have certain basic skills that enable them to provide guests and patrons with a better experience.

Among the skills they will be obliged to learn and be tested for are English, Malta’s tourism product, basic customer service and other necessary skills based on the area chosen by the person, such as bar, front office, restaurant or kitchen.

The theory element of the test, conducted while prospective workers are still in their home country, was set to cost €450, while the practical part, done upon their arrival in Malta, was expected to cost a further €125.

However, although most businesses said they agreed with the measure, many expressed concern about the costs involved.

A survey conducted among Gozitan tourism operators found that over half the respondents believed it would further hinder their operation, and a similar proportion argued that it is not the right time to implement it.

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