The Centre for Labour Studies (CLS) is the first and prototype centre set up at the University of Malta in 1981. The Centre offered its first part-time evening Diploma Course in Labour Studies in 1983. This was modelled on a similar one run by the Institute of Social Studies in The Hague and Ruskin College, Oxford University. This course was subsequently re-named Diploma in Social Studies (Industrial Relations).
In a similar vein the Diploma in Social Studies (Gender and Development) was launched in 1995, as the Diploma in Social Studies (Women and Development). Since 2016 this has been re-named as the Diploma in Gender, Work and Society. The course is offered in collaboration with the Department of Gender Studies of the University of Malta. Three Ministries co-finance the diploma, namely: the Ministry for Education and Employment, the Ministry for the Family and Social Solidarity and the Ministry for Social Dialogue, Consumer Affairs, and Civil Liberties.
In 1997, the Centre launched another Diploma in Social Studies (Occupational Health and Safety) to respond to an urgent need for an investment in expertise and skills connected to health and safety at the place of work. Malta’s main crop of occupational health and safety practitioners has been derived primarily from graduates of this diploma programme. In 2016 the Centre started offering this course at a Bachelor level as a Degree (Honours) in Occupational Health and Safety. This degree is accredited by the Institution for Occupational Health and Safety (IOSH) based in United Kingdom.
In 2003, the Centre launched a new Diploma in Social Studies (Occupational Guidance and Career Counselling). The majority of the students in this first course (2003-2005) were Employment Advisers working at the Employment and Training Corporation (ETC) which financially supported this course. Since 2016, this postgraduate diploma is being offered as a Masters in Lifelong Career Guidance and Development, and is offered in conjunction with the Faculty of Education of the University of Malta.
In 2010, the Centre launched a Bachelor Honours Degree Course in Work and Human Resources (Honours) which replaced the Diploma in Social Studies (Industrial Relations). This course is offered in collaboration with the Faculty of Economics, Management and Accountancy.
In addition to these courses, the Centre also provides out-reach educational programmes tailored to the specific needs of the particular participants to whom the course is intended. For example, short courses have been carried out in the past for employees at the Malta Drydocks, Air Malta, the Office of the Prime Minister, CDRT, and the Department of Inland Revenue, among others.
Another important initiative of the Centre in the educational field is the organisation of seminars and conferences aimed at addressing issues related to issues in the Maltese labour market and industrial relations system. Since 1990, these tripartite educational activities, targeted at officials representing the social partners and persons involved or interested in the world of work, have been carried out on a regular basis. In the past these activities were supported by the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung (FES)
Since 2005 the Centre for Labour Studies has been providing regular reports on the Maltese Labour Market to the European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions (Eurofound). This is a tripartite EU agency which is located in Dublin. It provides knowledge to assist in the development of social and work-related policies at EU level.
In 2014 the Centre for Labour Studies under the auspices of the Office of the President of Malta launched the Forum Nazzjonali tat-Trade Unions (FNTU). This Forum brings together all registered unions in Malta and acts as a national focal point of dialogue between them. The Centre offers expertise and provides the required academic and practical support to the FNTU.