22 Dec Special Edition: The Malta Chamber
Earlier this month, Ms Julia Aquilina, Policy Development Executive, and Mr Mel Aquilina, Marketing and Communications Executive, visited Como, Italy as part of The Malta Chamber’s partnership in the GIVE Project highlighting several efforts which the Chamber has undertaken in relation to promote inclusivity.
The visit included three days of intensive meetings, and visits to some of Cometa Formazione successful ventures. Included in this visit were partners from the Bask region to Finland marking an environment conducive to sharing the same values and vision created a truly inspiring environment that motivated ideas towards creating inclusive excellence. The Malta Chamber would like to formally thank Cometa for organising this visit.
During one of her interventions, Ms Aquilina said, “Human Capital is an element that forms part of The Malta Chamber’s Economic Vision. The Malta Chamber believes a business is as only as strong as its workforce.”
The Malta Chamber is a strong believer in optimising your workforce to their full potential while providing an engaging work environment that encourages employees to grow both professionally and personally. Hence, during the past years, The Chamber has taken various initiatives and submitted various proposals to promote and empower the workforce.
The Malta Chamber was honoured to be approached by MCAST to provide feedback based on the perspective of the different business sectors and continue to help bridge the gap between education and the business community. The GIVE project is designing and developing a European Platform of Centre of Excellence devoted to innovating the VET sector for the social inclusion of individuals belonging to disadvantaged groups. The project aims at consolidating the activities and practices developed at local level by the partners in terms of inclusion, exploiting their outcomes and impacts of Inclusive Excellence.
One such initiative was the ‘Your Device Your Right’ project. More than 5,000 children do not have access to laptops, desktop computers or tablets to be able to do their homework or follow classes online, according to a survey that exposed a digital divide made more acute by the COVID-19 pandemic. The education system is changing to reflect the needs of the market, and this includes the manner with which subjects are taught in class. Since access to education is a right, it is important that everyone is put on the same level, including their right to access technological tools.
Through an agreement signed with the Malta Trust Foundation, Chamber members were encouraged to donate used laptops and tablets; an initiative that will double up as an environmental incentive for technological hardware to be recycled. A pilot project was carried out and over 50 refurbished laptops have already been donated to referred students. The Chamber insists on keeping this initiative alive for the benefit of the entire community.
The Malta Chamber has collaborated on several initiatives together with MCAST, to support and promote vocational training. One such example was the promotion of carpentry and joinery programmes to address the massive shortage of skilled workers. Both entities have agreed to collaborate in a structured way to give the sector the boost it needs towards attracting newer generations, help rejuvenate it and keep it highly competitive.
Moreover, a colloquium was held to discuss the vocational skills required in the next couple of years. The forum titled Foresight 2030: Resetting Education and Skills in a post-COVID period aimed to stir a pro-active discussion on anticipating the skills for the future to ensure a thriving industry with a highly skilled workforce. This initiative led to further collaboration as the discussion points brought forward by industry leaders are being addressed in a joint taskforce and The Chamber’s Education Committee.
Further to the above initiatives, The Malta Chamber was approached by The Ministry for Inclusion and Social Wellbeing to provide feedback on ‘Malta’s National Autism Strategy 2021-2030.’ Amongst the feedback given, the key recommendations included creating the role of an Employment Support Worker. This new role within the employment section of persons with disability is created and supports holistically the individual to smoothen the transition into employment. Furthermore, The Malta Chamber proposed a scheme to retain jobs to create a one-time fiscal retention incentive for employers who manage to support persons with disability remaining on their records. This incentive would become eligible after the two years of engagement with the employer. In regard to self-employed, The Malta Chamber recommended incentives for persons with disability to venture into entrepreneurship and become self-employed. This also in view of the new proposed legislation for the Social Enterprise Act. The Malta Chamber also recommended an e-platform to provide a one-stop shop that is inclusive of all the information one would need.
The Malta Chamber is also a founding member of the Malta Business Disability Forum (MBDF) which was set up by The Commission for the Rights of Persons with Disability (CRPD) which is committed to rendering Maltese society an inclusive one. The MBDF is committed to build closer ties between the disability and business sectors, creating a platform for discussion and improving dialogue between persons with a disability and business organisations.
Moving forward, The Malta Chamber, as Malta’s leading business representative body, will continue to take on a proactive approach in being a key contributor to this country’s socioeconomic well-being and vision.
The Malta Chamber wishes to thank Cometa Fondazione once again for organising an exceptional meeting which provided an excellent platform to exchange ideas with other inspirational partners from the EU.