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PSD needs to be taken to further levels

Personal and social development, a subject taught at primary and secondary level, needs be continued into post-secondary and tertiary education if its full benefits are to be reaped, according to the Malta PSD Association.

Personal and social development is a popular subject among students where, in a refreshing change from other curricular subjects, they are equipped with skills and attitudes to tackle life’s roadblocks.

“The importance of PSD in post-secondary and tertiary education institutions is being recognised even at a European level,” MPSDA president Amanda Caruana said.

“Students at that level also require skills that further enhance their holistic well-being, quality of life and employability.”

In a study commissioned by the Employment and Training Corporation, employers stated that “young people in Malta tended to lack soft skills”.

Young people, the study found, lacked core characteristics, such as self-confidence and discipline. They were too leisure-oriented, had too many hobbies and commitments, did not wish to work extra hours and could not show their potential during interviews.

The MPSDA went on to quote the European Commission, which stated: “Young people can no longer expect to spend their whole lifetime in one sector of employment; their career paths will change in unpredictable ways and they will need a wide range of generic competences to enable them to adapt.

“In an increasingly complex world, creativity, the ability to think laterally, transversal skills and adaptability tend to be valued more than specific bodies of knowledge”.

Currently, post-secondary and tertiary institutions such as the Malta College of Arts, Science and Technology, the Institute of Tourism Studies and the University of Malta have elements of PSD skills integrated within some of the subjects on offer.

Mcast offers personal development in some of the courses provided. At ITS, students are offered personal and social competences through an embedded structure while at the University, some modules include interpersonal and intrapersonal skills.

“We strongly believe that an institution should offer PSD skills that are embedded (included within the study-unit), modular (offered as a separate module/subject) and extra-curricular. In this way, one would reinforce the other and we would provide a quality education for the students,” the association said.

On an EU level, there is an attempt to mediate soft skills at higher education institutions through the Modes project. The project seeks to integrate a common European programme on soft skills in academic curricula. It also provides a list of skills required by late adolescents and early adults.

The association also stressed that, due to the subject’s delicate nature, such skills should be taught by qualified PSD professionals who would have followed a four-year Bachelor of Education degree or, alternatively, an Arts degree followed by a postgraduate diploma in PSD.

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