19 January 2005

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Government gains another IT partner
The Government gained another important partner in its bid to transform Malta into a centre of information and communications excellence this week when it entered into a Vertical Strategic Alliance with the Oracle Corporation.
Presiding over the event, Incestment, Industry and Information Technology Minister Dr Austin Gatt described the alliance as another partnership with an international ICT firm working toward the National ICT Strategy and a number of its objectives related to the ICT and education, the ICT Industry and the narrowing of the digital divide.
Also present at the event was Oracle Senior Vice President for European Enlargement and CIS region, Alfonso Di Ianni, who expressed his satisfaction over teaming up with the Maltese Government in its journey to be the ‘lighthouse in the Mediterranean’ as far as ICT is concerned. He described Malta’s strategy and vision as a very good foundation for Malta to become the ICT regional centre of excellence, adding how he believes the Maltese Government will attain its target because its ICT Strategy 2004 – 2006 is a strong foundation for its ‘journey’.
Minister Gatt said that the Alliance sets the framework for the launch of a number of projects which seek to increase the level and employability of ICT graduates coming out of the University and MCAST.
He adds that the Vertical Strategic Alliance falls in line with the declared objectives of the Ministry. This Government has already declared its objective to support the development of an ICT incubation and proof of concept centre by forging alliances with major multinationals to provide their technologies in a lab environment. It also wants to identify companies that can be encouraged and supported to set up their ICT operations in Malta. The Government aims to encourage and support the local ICT industry in organising itself into specialised niche areas aimed at providing a comprehensive suite of services. It also wants to set up industry–leading ICT academies to engender the broadest suite of specialised skills in the local labour market.
Minister Gatt explained how Oracle's business is about the use and management of information, how to share it and protect it. For nearly three decades, Oracle, the world's largest enterprise software company, has provided the software and services that let organisations get the most up-to-date and accurate information from their business systems.
Among the initiatives announced on Monday are the extending the previous arrangements made by setting up academies at the University, the Junior College and MCAST. Thanks to the alliance, Oracle will be fully-sponsoring the training of trainers and provide the software for the institutions to offer the certifications to their students. Another initiative is academic pricing (with discounts of up to 90 per cent) will be offered on a range of Oracle software which can be used by the educational institutions for their internal administrative requirements. A very important initiative is that a number of students will be provided with a work experience with Oracle during the summer months. Engagement of these students with the local ICT industry will also be sponsored by Oracle. Free Oracle software (the latest version of their products) will be given to students following ICT degree courses and certifications at the University and MCAST. These initiatives will help us reach our National ICT Strategy targets of preparing 500 new certified ICT-specialists per annum by 2006, increase the direct ICT employment by 1,200 employees.
Dr Gatt announced that thanks to the alliance, the Government has teamed with another ally in its fight to eradicate the digital divide. These include the Oracle Workforce Development Programme will provide training for the unemployed and people seeking to re-enter the work-force and other considered at a disadvantage. “We will prepare ‘disadvantaged’ people to complete job roles, which are highly demanded in today’s knowledge-based society where commercial entities are using ICTs and demanding specific skills from employees. Oracle will also be helping us support young entrepreneurs and start-up companies, waiving all fees for local start-up companies to be part of its Partner Network. This provides our start-ups with tremendous exposure through marketing and support to reach distribution channels which otherwise would have been unavailable. This will help Malta reach the National ICT Strategy target of assisting at least 10 new ICT start-ups per annum.”

Copyright © Newsworks Ltd. Malta.
Editor: Saviour Balzan
The Malta Financial & Business Times, Newsworks Ltd, Vjal ir-Rihan, San Gwann
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