Strengthening Maltas workforce
Joe Zammit Tabona
Federation of Industry President, Joe Zammit Tabona, recently addressed
the launch of the Education - Business links initiative, which is aimed
at enhancing Maltas main advantage in operating manufacturing
concerns from Malta the countrys human resources. He explains
that a number of foreign investors are often impressed by the positive
attitude and trainability of the Maltese workers. However, Mr Zammit
Tabona adds that we need to do more to prepare our youths for the challenges
ahead, with the education system eliminating illiteracy and giving basic
education and learning skills where computer literacy must feature strongly.
I must say that the FOI has for a number of years shown its interest
in education and human resources development in general. Over the past
twelve years we have given our modest but strong contribution to establish
this essential link between industry and the education sector, by our
analysis of the requirements of industry which led to a number of position
papers outlining our views.
The Federation is also proud of maintaining a steady collaboration with
the education authorities in its efforts to develop our education system
and we have participated in the debate leading to changes in the national
Industry believes that its main advantage in operating from our country
lies in the advantage that our small country holds in the sphere of
human resources. It is an edge that we have and that we cannot afford
A number of foreign investors in our industry are often impressed by
the positive attitude and trainability of the Maltese workers even those
with limited formal educational accomplishments. The flexibility and
adaptability which is a part of the Maltese character gives the worker
a can do and will do approach to the problems
encountered in everyday work situations. However, we need to do more
to prepare our youths for the stiffer challenges of the coming years
when the education system must not only eliminate illiteracy but give
the present generation the basic education and learning skills where
computer literacy must feature strongly.
The Education - Business links initiative is but one of several links
in the chain that is being strengthened by the latest development in
our education set-up. The implementation of a new minimum curriculum
at Primary and Secondary level is not only acknowledging the need for
change in the countrys approach to education.
It also shows the conviction of the government that in a dynamic world,
our young people have to become aware early in life of the responsibilities
they need to shoulder, of a strong work ethic, of the need for developing
a broad range of skills and of ensuring that they develop a solid basis
that will enable them to carry on with further education and training
throughout their working life.
Education - Business links is intended to raise the level of awareness
among students of technology. It is also meant to attract students towards
applied technological principles and attitudes. Gradually, this should
help students to be better prepared for future training and to be more
versatile during their working life.
At this stage our Federation would like to start this initiative as
a pilot project. I am sure you will agree Minister Galea, ladies and
gentlemen that every party to this scheme will be learning from our
experiment, which I am sure everyone wishes to be a success.
Eventually, we might effect some changes in the scheme in the light
of our experience and establish it on a more permanent basis. For the
moment we have six firms and one public corporation that will be participating,
but I am sure that as time goes on we shall have more firms joining
We have thought of allowing participants in this scheme maximum flexibility.
The school will be expecting help that the business partner will be
providing in a variety of ways, suitable for the school and possible
for the business partner. Through the collaboration of the Ministry
for Education we have identified schools that are situated in the same
area where the enterprise operates.
There is an agreement signed between the school and the business partner
that is meant to show the commitment of both sides to the scheme. On
his part the business partner may give an input in the operational and
managerial aspects and hopefully will also be able to provide specialists
who could lecture in courses for school teachers organised by the Education
There will be class or group orientation visits to the enterprise, and
also day-long familiarisation visits for a manageable groups of students
to help them get an idea of what a day in that enterprise means. On
their part the Education Division will offer training in teaching Techniques
to personnel from the enterprise engaged in staff development. School
staff will also have the facility to orientate themselves in those areas
where they need to enhance their expertise, and to attend in-house staff
development programmes conducted primarily for the business partners
The schools can also be given the option of acquiring equipment that
is surplus to the requirements of the business partner. The agreement
provides for sponsoring of school initiatives/workshops, facilities/resource-packs,
provision of samples of materials/components and fittings to be used
for demonstration purposes and practice in Technology Education.
The working of the agreements under the scheme - so far seven in number
- will be supervised by the Education-Business Links Committee that
will be composed of officials from the Ministry, FHRD and the Malta
Federation of Industry.
It is an exciting time for industry and the Education Ministry to be
engaged in this exercise. I am certain that at the end it will help
both sides to understand each other more at the administrative and managerial
It will help to foster more understanding amongst school children at
secondary level about what the world of work can offer, about the opportunities
and the challenges of a career in manufacturing or in a service industry.
With your permission, may I say Minister Galea, that we appreciate your
personal enthusiasm and great involvement in this new scheme and we
thank you for your efforts. May I also thank the Ministry officials
who co-ordinated the work; and of course the Heads of the seven secondary
schools participating in this project who are present here.
I also congratulate the seven firms for taking this opportunity. They
are: Attard Bros, Golden Harvest Manufacturing Co., Gasan Enterprises
Ltd, Multigas Ltd, Toyota Motors Ltd, Vodafone, and Water Services Corporation.
It shows very clearly that business in Malta is highly conscious of
its social responsibilities and is ready to be innovative in its approach.
I wish each school and the respective firms a successful venture.