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138 Individuals Successfully Graduate in ICT Diplomas

Publication Date: Sep 06, 2012
Blata l-Bajda, Malta – [ 06/09/2012 ]: In a graduation ceremony held yesterday evening, 138 individuals were presented with certificates after attaining a national diploma in information and communications technology (ICT). This was the outcome of the ‘ESF 2.12 Second Step Training Programme’ which was co-financed by the European Union through the European Social Fund and enabled participants to achieve one out of three possible diplomas in ICT for free. Second Step was launched by the Malta Information Technology Agency (MITA) in 2010-2011 with the aim of encouraging people to pursue ICT studies.
The ceremony was presided by Hon Austin Gatt, Minister for Infrastructure, Transport and Communications (MITC), who congratulated the students for becoming ICT professionals. Minister Gatt said, “Today we are living in a digital age where technology and innovation have become key contributors to economic growth. More than two decades ago, when computers where still in their infancy, Government was bold enough to recognise the potential that ICT can bring about - we realised the added value that a knowledge-based society and economy has for our objective to develop Malta’s productivity and gain competitive edge.” Minister Gatt said that when thinking about the future economy, one needs to think about the digital revolution and the new business models it creates.
European studies have shown that the Internet creates five jobs for every two it displaces. It enables small firms to double their growth and exports. Broadband has been directly connected to economic growth – increasing broadband penetration by 10% could mean a GDP growth of 1 to 1.5%. “Since 2005 broadband connections in Maltese households have increased by 50%. In 2011 broadband penetration in households stood at 74.9%, almost 8% above the EU average of 67.3%; whilst broadband connections within local enterprises stood at 94.1% which is as well 8% above the EU average of 86.5%”
Minister Gatt acknowledged that in the past years both the University of Malta and MCAST has registered huge progress in terms of ICT courses and graduates. “The amount of pupils from our educational institutions must be supplemented by getting more people motivated into taking up a career in ICT. This will enable our ICT industry to find the right set of skills amongst the local population. Indeed, one of the challenges we have today is that ICT companies are not finding enough people in Malta with the specialisations they require.” Minister Gatt said that “for the past decade, Government has provided a whole range of computer training opportunities – from basic courses which introduced citizens to computers and the Internet, to diploma courses. Furthermore, thousands of individuals have taken it upon themselves to pursue studies in ICT and then claim rebate through tax incentives such as the Get Qualified scheme, formerly know as myPotential.” Minister Gatt concluded by congratulating the graduates on their achievement and motivated them to pursue more opportunities within the ICT sector.
Dr. Godwin Grima, MITA’s Chairman, said that, “Today’s economy relies on a smart workforce and initiatives such as the Second Step Training Programme provide the right platform for people to upgrade their skills and be in a better position to find better and smarter jobs.” In the two calls for applications which MITA issued, the Agency received a total of 531 applications out of which 50% met the eligibility criteria for the programme. “Attracting such a large turnout of applications means that the local population is receptive for lifelong learning initiatives and there is quite a substantial demand for ICT training. This is in line with MITA’s plans to introduce similar training programmes with the aim of attracting additional human capital to the ICT sector. Through Second Step we have given the opportunity to all those individuals who in the past, due to different circumstances, could not or did not study ICT at secondary or higher-secondary level. Such opportunities are enabling individuals who wish to enter into the ICT job market to do so at a later stage of their lives with the aim of furthering their career prospects,” concluded Dr. Grima.
Spread over two years, Second Step has successfully provided 138 individuals with free training in different ICT subjects, leading to an MQF level 4 BTEC National Diploma for IT practitioners. Even though ICT has traditionally been looked at as a male-dominated sector it is encouraging to see that a quarter of graduate were females. The age distribution of graduates shows a healthy outlook to lifelong learning related to ICT with a third of graduates being over 40 years of age. The vast majority (94%) opted for evening classes.
Second Step was co-financed by the European Union through the European Social Fund and National Funds with a co-financing rate of 85% EU funds and 15% National Funds.