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Career paths in the digital sector

The digital sector in Malta is one of the most active in Europe.

The digital sector in Malta is one of the most active in Europe.

Education and experience can lead you to a successful career in ICT, says Carm Cachia, executive coordinator at the eSkills Malta Foundation.

The Information Technology and Communications sector has always been very active and interesting when it comes to careers. There has always been lack of resources in the area, and we can safely say that a career in the digital sector means that you will never end up without a job. Additionally, you will always find what you are looking for in a career in ICT, if you look carefully.

Taking an ICT career also means that you are entering a profession, just like the other recognised professions of lawyers, architects, engineers, doctors, and many others. Apart from the top-class education which can be taken locally, there are also many international ICT professional institutions, which you can study with, and become a member of.

Unfortunately, the latter goes unnoticed in the fast, innovative and engaging digital sector. But what are the existing ICT career paths in Malta?

First, it is important to note that the digital sector in Malta is one of the most active in Europe. This is not just because we have a strong and prominent iGaming sector, but also because there are also many local and foreign ICT companies who have ventured successfully in international markets. Therefore, it’s not surprising that today you find many locally based ICT companies that employ hundreds of personnel.

A student can embark on an ICT career through the many different paths that exist. The formal education path is still very strong and sought after. Having followed successful secondary education studies, and attaining the right examinations, one can enrol in one of the tertiary education degrees at the University of Malta, MCAST, or one of the foreign universities that offer such courses.

The latter has also become a strong pillar of the ICT tertiary education. These include the Universities of London, Middlesex, Hertfordshire, Leicester and Derby among the most popular. Both local and foreign tertiary education providers offer many interesting programmes of study.

Of course, all the foreign tertiary education providers would have sought the right accreditation from the National Commission for Further and Higher Education (NCFHE) for their programmes.

The NCFHE website has a list of such qualifications.

A student can embark on an ICT career through the many different paths that exist

Another path in formal education for further and higher education in ICT is that of studying for accredited certifications and diplomas from colleges and institutions. As an example, MCAST offers those students who have not attained or are not inclined to attain secondary and post-secondary examinations, the possibility to study ICT from a certificate level, through to foundation, diploma, advanced diploma, and eventually a Bachelors or Master’s degree. They carry out these courses successfully through their foundation (MQF Levels 1 to 3), technical (MQF level 4), and university (MQF Levels 5 to 7) colleges. Additionally, these studies can be taken as a vocational education and training.

One still finds individuals who do not want to follow further and higher education. And in this case, another very important pillar of embarking on an ICT career is through the studying of various highly recognised industry certifications. Some of these certifications are vendor-specific, such as Microsoft, Cisco, Oracle, IBM, HP, Brocade, Red Hat, SAP, and many other certifications. These certifications focus on their core technologies and are important and valuable certifications for the industry. One may be a highly certified Microsoft developer, and the person would be very well regarded, even if there would be a lack of knowledge in the computer science knowledge.

Other industry certifications are vendor-neutral and these are closer to specific subjects studied in colleges and universities, however they are industry-led. These include certifications in systems analysis, process management, software architecture, cybersecurity, risk management, service management, and many others. These are very highly sought-after certifications, and would also guarantee a job in the ICT sector.

Very importantly, one must mention that experience is of utmost importance, and this includes both technical experience and corporate experience. Nothing can replace experience. Therefore, coupled with any type of education, one would truly become a professional when work experience is gained. And hence, therefore many educational establishments either support and encourage work placements or have integrated work placements or apprenticeships.

Last, but not least, any level of education, whether formal, informal, or industry, can be followed online through an e-learning programme. Perhaps in Malta this has not yet been taken up enough, but it is a very viable, and cost-effective option. One can find very credible education from various highly reputable colleges, universities, and institutions on all information technology subjects. Certificated e-learning education is not free, but there is also a good amount of free e-learning education which one can start or develop further the knowledge and skills.

In my opinion the best education, would definitely be the blended formal education, with industry certifications and a good dose of experience. But, as seen above, there is a career for everyone in this innovative and highly paid digital industry.

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