09 March 2005

The Web

Unemployment rising in Gozo
By James Debono and Kurt Sansone

Data revealed in the House of Representatives in January demonstrates that while unemployment remained high in the south of Malta, particularly in Cottonera, unemployment is also rising in Gozo.
An analysis conducted by The Malta Financial and Business Times shows that out of the 20 localities registering a high percentage of unemployment, eight hail from Gozo, eight hail from the south harbour districts which includes Cottonera, two localities hail from the south east, one locality hails from the north harbour district and another one hails from the north.
A similar analysis carried out by The Malta Financial and Business Times’ sister paper MaltaToday in 2003 showed that of the top 20 localities, 11 localities hailed from the southern harbour area and only one locality (Zebbug) hailed from Gozo.
A calculation of registered unemployed as a percentage of the total population of a locality shows that the small locality of Xghajra on the outskirts of Zabbar has the highest rate at 5.5 per cent followed by Cospicua at 5.3 per cent and Valletta at 5 per cent. These three localities also topped the list in 2003.
During 2004 there was a marked rise in unemployment in various Gozitan localities. In fact while in 2003 only eight Gozitan localities had an unemployment rate of more than 2 per cent, in 2004 11 localities had an unemployment rate of greater than 2 per cent. In 2004 Zebbug remained the Gozitan locality with the highest rate of unemployment. In this locality unemployment has risen from 4.1 per cent to 4.6 per cent. In San Lawrenz unemployment has risen by 1.3 per cent, in Qala by 1.1 per cent, in Ghajnsielem and Kercem by 0.7 per cent, Fontana and Nadur by 0.5 per cent and in Munxar by 0.4 per cent.
Global unemployment in Gozo has risen from 618 to 710, a percentage increase of 13 per cent over one year.
One finds a direct relationship between low rates of educational achievement and high unemployment. Gozitan localities like Fontana, Ghajnsielem, Kercem, Nadur and Qala together with localities from the south like Cospicua and Senglea also have the lowest rate of students attending Junior College according to statistics released in December last year. Another confirmation that low educational achievement and unemployment rates are related is found when analysing the rate of junior lyceum passes in different localities. According to data made available in January, Cospicua also had the one of the lowest rates of students who passed this exam (22 per cent).
With the exception of Marsaxlokk, one does not find any southern or Gozitan localities among the 10 localities registering the least number of unemployed. The analysis shows that unemployment is virtually non-existent in some of the highly affluent areas in the north with Attard, Balzan, Mellieha and Swieqi having unemployment levels below one per cent. These localities also have among the highest rates of students in junior college and higher pass rates in junior lyceum examinations. This exam has a bearing on the future employability of these students. In Swieqi where the unemployment is 0.7 per cent, 75 per cent of students passed the junior lyceum exam. Low rates of educational achievement in localities with high unemployment indicates a bleak picture for the future of youths in these localities. In this aspect prospects are not so bleak in Gozo where 60 per cent pass this exam when one considers that on a national level 54 per cent pass this exam.

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