As head of the secretariat for the elderly between 1992 and 1996, Charlo Bonnici remembers the alarm surrounding the growing waiting lists for people seeking to be admitted to a home for the elderly.

“CareMalta was the first company in the private sector to open a purposely built home for the elderly – Casa Arkati. At the time, the public and private sectors were discussing the idea of public-private-partnerships, which I believe were the salvation of the industry.

“At the time, I also absolutely had no idea I would one day work in the sector, let alone with CareMalta. I was interested in the subject and eventually did a postgraduate course in gerontology, but it wasn’t until 2008 that I joined CareMalta as Human Resources Manager.”

By 2009, Malta – and CareMalta – was suffering a shortage of carers. So CareMalta started organising its own tailored courses to train prospective carers. Although licensed as a training institution, the courses, in the absence of Malta Further and Higher Education Authority, were not accredited.

“That was the beginning of the CareMalta Academy. When accreditation eventually became a requirement, we partnered up with City and Guilds and started offering their accredited courses before creating our own tailored courses.”

By 2019, the academy had branched into other areas such as disability, mental healthcare, management, hospitality and sports, and by February 2019 the company realised the academy could stand on its own, which gave birth to Learning Works.

“Learning Works owes its beginnings to CareMalta, and CareMalta remains one of our most important partners as care makes up around 65 per cent of our business. And with the elderly care sector expected to continue growing as people are living longer, we expect CareMalta to remain among our main partners.

“Businesswise, CareMalta has always been strong, and during the pandemic the company grew even stronger. People realised that care could provide a permanent job and we saw a surge in people enrolling in our courses, including CareMalta’s own employees who wanted to specialise or advance in their career.”

CareMalta is Learning Work’s biggest partner, not just when it comes to training in care.

One of the main challenges for CareMalta remains shortage of human resources on the island, with half the company’s employees being foreign. CareMalta therefore resorts to recruiting foreigners who may not all be fluent in English and this is where Learning Works steps in. The educational institution offers English language courses that also provide an overview of the Maltese culture.

However, in recent years, Learning Works has also specialised in sports, with a special focus on psychology, nutrition, and management.

“We partnered up with Liverpool John Moores University to offer a Master in Science in International Sports Coaching, ahead of the opening of the Mediterranean College of Sport in Birkirkara in 2024. The independent school will cater for secondary and post-secondary students, who can specialise in football, water polo, swimming, artistic swimming and athletics.”

Apart from the opening of the college, Learning Works marked its 15 years with full digitisation of its processes and procedures.

“Before the Covid pandemic, everything was face to face and we had never ever considered online. But when businesses and the academy had to close their physical doors in March 2020, we went online within a week.

“Now that the pandemic restrictions have gone, 70 per cent of Learning Work’s classes remain online. So, we’re taking this a step further by digitising admission, management and recruitment procedures so that the process for students, from beginning to end – including issuing of invoices and certificates, submission of assignments, correction and internal verification – are digitised.

“Since digitisation does away with double work and laborious paperwork, the system becomes more efficient, as does the handover from those who leave the company to others who join it,” he says.

“However, while digitising our procedures you would, eventually, need fewer people, it will never replace creativity. So, specialised people will always be sought after.”