The Government has launched a public consultation on a major reform designed to address the skills shortage that exists among workers in the hospitality and tourism industries in Malta.

The reform will see the introduction of a skills card to be introduced in January 2024, for which prospective workers will need to attend a training course and pass an assessment.

The skills card will be introduced gradually, and will first apply to third country nationals (TCNs) who do not currently work in Malta. These fresh recruits will need to follow a number of trainings and assessments including a mandatory course in English, a course on the tourism product of Malta, and a course on basic customer service and other skills based on the line chosen by the person, such as bar, front office, restaurant or kitchen.

Prospective workers must complete these assessments, which will cost €450 before they apply for a work permit, with the certificate, issued by the Institute for Tourism Studies (ITS) to be used in their visa application.

Those who pass all stages, including the necessary verifications established by Identità, must then sit for another examination upon their arrival in Malta. Those who do not pass this practical test, costing €125, will have their work permit revoked and will be repatriated.

Should the proposal go through, as from October 2024 the skills card will be extended to foreign workers already employed in the tourism sector locally. Those who do not pass will not have their work permit renewed.

Workers from the European Union and locals will be subject to the new rules from January 2025.

Minister for Tourism Clayton Bartolo remarked that this is a necessary reform that will be spread over a number of years. “This is a tangible first step built on continuous education and effective training through which we start to see a higher quality service offered to Maltese, Gozitans and even tourists”, he said, adding that this reform is the first step in a series through which Malta can offer a product of excellence on every level of the hospitality industry.

Minister for Home Affairs, Security, Reforms and Equality Byron Camilleri said that there is a commitment to continue to combat any kind of abuse through various measures and inspections, while this measure will ensure that only quality workers are invited to Malta in this sector.

“Through the condition of the sill cards announced today, we are setting quality standards that lead to requirements without which the residence permit cannot be issued by Identità. This reform and line of thinking should be extended to other sectors of our country’s economy in order to continuously weave quality,” concluded Minister Camilleri.

The public consultation is open until 16th November.

Featured Image:

Department of Information / Clodagh O’Neill

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