Joachim James Calleja

The Malta College of Arts, Science and Technology (MCAST) Principal and CEO Joachim James Calleja has highlighted the increased focus the educational institution is giving to a number of sectors, particularly those relating to agriculture.

This comes after a visit to the Public Abattoir in Marsa, where two new initiatives were announced by Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries, Food and Animal Rights Anton Refalo and Minister for Education, Sport, Youth, Research and Innovation Clifton Grima with the aim of improving the skills of working in the meat-packing industry.

The first initiative is the development of an educational programme with MCAST, with this expected to address the lack of skills in the industry, both at the butchery level, together with other areas within the process of preparing meat for sale.

The second initiative is an extension of the agreement between the Ministry for Agriculture, Fisheries, Food and Animal Rights and MCAST, through which the two entities will continue to enhance their relation and collaborate further.

“MCAST is proactively addressing various sectors where there is a lack of skills,” Professor Calleja said.

He noted that agriculture, aquaculture, and animal science are among such sectors.

“This course will open new opportunities for learning both for those people who are already working in the sector, and also for those who wish to start working in the industry,” he explained.

Professor Calleja added that the second call for applications for courses starting this October will open on 4th September.

Commenting on the first initiative, Minister Refalo explained that the programme covers the whole meat preparation process to ensure the quality of meat, together with lessons on the characteristics of certain meat and particular cuts, food hygiene, equipment handling, health and safety in the processing of meat, labelling, and other areas.

He added that the Public Abattoir evaluated the lack of skills and the demand for such education, leading to the creation of the programme to provide the necessary theoretical and practical training.

He also explained that after discussions between the Veterinary Regulation Directorate and MCAST, aside from training on red meat, there will also be training on white meat, which is not killed at the Public Abattoir.

Public Abattoir Director General Stefan Cachia highlighted the need for the entity to be proactive in the way it aids the local industry to ensure that meat is “truly sustainable”.

“This course is a way we can address the shortage in this sector so that we can have quality meat for a good price. Therefore, it is important that we have people who know how to work and deliver to consumers,” he added.

Minister Grima explained that the provision of training within every sector of the economy is an “important mission” for the Ministry, as it aims to “not only continue creating opportunities, but also provide students with everything they need for their studies to be holistic and meet every area they are studying in class”.

“We are doing this by collaborating with other Ministries and through MCAST, which today is an educational institution which is providing significant opportunities to everyone who has good aspirations for their career,” he concluded.

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