The Malta Chamber of Commerce’s ‘The National Workforce Strategy ‘ document has proposed various initiatives for creating a robust workforce in the coming years.
The UPE notes that the document puts forward some very good proposals. Incentivising women to join the workforce on a full-time basis is one of them. The Union suggests that such a strategy goes hand in hand with a significant increase in paternal leave which would allow fathers to care for their children. This is not a re-invention off the wheel; extended paternal leave has been successfully introduced all across the EU with positive effects.
When it came to education matters, it would have been more productive if the Malta Chamber of Commerce had discussed its proposals with educational stake-holders, such as the Union of Professional Educators, in order to explore other methods of improving the future of the workforce.
The Chamber of Commerce’s proposal to increase the obligatory school-leaving age to 18 years will not work as things stand presently. The main reasons are: the impact on revenue generated by tax collection, the lack of infrastructure to educate a much larger school population as well as the lack of human resources.
The UPE offers an alternative – the introduction of Trade Schools. Not the outdated version of an institute for low-skilled jobs, but rather a model aiming for specialised areas such as commerce, IT and Languages. In this way, the educational structure would also cater for gifted children. A similar model was adopted by the Ministry of Education some years ago when the National Sports School was established. The Union also encourages the introduction of apprenticeships at post-secondary and tertiary levels. University students would be able to immerse themselves in their field of study.
What is clear from the above is that a comprehensive strategy is dependent on the collaboration of all stake-holders. The UPE is more than willing to be part of this planning for the future.