Editorial: Planning for the future

Last Updated on Thursday, 18 May, 2023 at 11:31 am by Andre Camilleri

The former general secretary of the UHM-Voice of the Workers, Gejtu Vella, issued a warning signal in an interview he have to The Malta Independent on Sunday.

Vella, who now serves as a human resources and industrial relations consultant, said that Malta needs to plan for the next five to 15 years.

“If we do not start thinking about this, what sectors will we start encouraging our youths to aim for,” he said.

Workplaces we have today may be obsolete in a decade’s time. This means that what students are studying for today may no longer be available when they arrive at a point when they have to pick a career.

The education process must follow the needs of the nation. The problem is that industry is changing very rapidly, but the education system is not keeping up with the changing times. This means that we have come to a point when students are finishing their courses only to find that what they studied for is not available.

This is not the case for the more traditional jobs. We will always need teachers, doctors, nurses, architects, engineers, accountants and the rest although, even here, some of these sectors have often complained that they lack resources. Everything possible needs to be made to encourage more youngsters to take up such important jobs.

But where the situation is more volatile, and where it changes at a faster pace, it is even more difficult to plan ahead. Advances in technology are coming more rapidly, and what seemed impossible yesterday is available today.

The evolution of Malta’s workforce continues too. In the past decade we have seen many more Maltese shunning certain jobs, which meant that foreigners were needed. This resulted in a huge jump in our population, which has grown by more or less 100,000 in the past 10 years, adding more burdens on the infrastructure and resulting in a growing demand for accommodation.

As Vella rightly pointed out, does Malta really have a plan of where it is going? Does it know where it wants to end up?

Mentioning one particular sector, tourism, Vella said that it does not seem that Malta has a strategic plan. We are still deciding whether to go for high-end tourists, which would mean fewer numbers but attracting visitors who spend more, or low-end tourists, which would mean higher numbers but visitors who spend less.

When the Covid-19 pandemic hit, we were extremely worried that the number of visitors had dropped exponentially; but now that the tourism numbers are picking up again, this is again creating serious difficulties when it comes to the country’s infrastructure. The fact that more hotels are being built and others are being renovated means that we believe that we should go for mass tourism, but then we’re offended when we’re told that Malta is not a five-star destination.

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