Language schools: 2,000 jobs at risk after abrupt COVID closures

FELTOM wants vaccinated adults to be allowed to attend lessons and calls for rescue package

FELTOM said vaccinated adults should be immediately granted access to physical ELT lessons in Malta
FELTOM said vaccinated adults should be immediately granted access to physical ELT lessons in Malta

Almost 2,000 jobs are at risk in Malta’s English-language school industry after the government forced the abrupt closure of the sector by stopping unvaccinated travellers from entering Malta. 

Many of them are young tourists who take up long sojourns as English-language students. 

The Federation of ELT schools (FELTOM) yesterday met government officials to outline a list of suggestions on dealing with the crisis, such as allowing for vaccinated adult students to continue physical lessons; and outline a rescue package for some 2,000 jobs that depend on the industry. 

“FELTOM wants to see how best to work with government to turn what could be a reputational disaster into an image enhancer for not only the sector but for our tourist industry and the island as a whole,” the lobby said. 

After opening their doors last June, member schools said they were now facing 15,000 booking cancellations since the announcement was made last Friday, at a cost of €36 million on their books, job losses, and even complete liquidation of some companies. 

“The only thing we are getting is a wait-and-see attitude. But at what cost? The more time passes, the more all this does not make sense,” a FELTOM school representative quoted by the lobby, said. 

“To make matters more confusing, Malta has now just decided to start welcoming unvaccinated people, albeit with a 14-day quarantine period and yet, the country continues to discriminate against adult vaccinated English language learners who are not being allowed into their schools – those currently on the island, and those still due to arrive. 

“All this is just surreal, especially given that all schools, by Government’s own admission, have been labelled fully-compliant with the health protocols as imposed by Government prior to schools being allowed to reopen.”  

FELTOM said language schools had been unfairly singled out because of a unilateral decision on how the tourist industry was opened last June.