Creating sustainable employment is a critical focus of any government. It is also the concern of employers across all sectors and of all sizes.

New jobs provide opportunities for aspiring job seekers, whether new to the market or experienced employees, to improve their standard of living as well as to enhance their skills, their future potential and livelihood.

We need to create real and long-term jobs for the unemployed. However, it is just as critical, if not more so, to ensure that employees currently actively engaged in the labour market retain their jobs and are able to enhance their skills to ensure long-term tenure and value in the market place.

There is no doubt that we also need to keep our employees in employment. Over the past years, a number of training programmes – namely the Training Aid Framework and the Employment Aid Framework – have proved to be excellent initiatives that have not only helped to combat unemployment but also to raise the skill level of many organisations and enhance their competitiveness.

Investment in training and development through the unprecedented take-up of the TAF and EAP schemes, supported by EU funding, has shown that the business community is committed to provide its employees with opportunities for continuous learning and reintegration, as well as to involve itself in the long-term education of our workforce.

Despite the tough economic scenario, there is growing understanding that investing in the life-long education of employees is not only money well spent but is truly a stepping stone to ongoing business success. Training on the job and in employment also provides opportunities and practical experiences for employees who, for various reasons, may have missed out on formal schooling and qualification.

As opportunities are increasingly made available throughout one’s working life, there are also growing numbers of adult learners who are ready to take advantage of these possibilities to enhance their chances in life and improve the livelihood and standard of living of their families.

It would therefore be a serious underestimation of the contrib-ution of these initiatives, should further schemes not be launched and encouraged.

There is no doubt that both the TAF and EAP have contributed to the development of the local economy (one may also consider the spin-offs with respect to the developments in the business of training) as well as to the long-term employment and development of the workforce.

Yet more always needs to be done to facilitate and support the business sector to continue to educate and train its workforce.

Bureaucracies need to be removed. Access needs to be increased. Investing in sustainable jobs needs to be encouraged.

As preparations for the national Budget are being finalised, we need to ascertain that proper channelling of resources towards the fostering of employment and training remains a priority.

We need to continue building on the solid foundations that have supported many organisations over the past years and that have proved to be positive contributors in these turbulent times.

A holistic approach and clear focus to continue promoting lifelong learning by the various government authorities and entities such as the Employment and Training Corporation and Malta Enterprise will continue to reap benefits for the country as well as for the diverse business sectors.

This is an area where we need to continue to act. The country cannot afford to falter. We need to keep the momentum going.

We need to ensure that we have the capabilities, skills or competencies of our workforce to contribute to sustainable, successful organisations that are truly effective.

The business sector and all the employees actively engaged in these organisations that are contributing to the country’s wealth need to continue to grow and develop to be able to meet the fast moving pace of technological change with the appropriate accompanying work ethic and determination to succeed.

Malta depends on it. The long-term livelihood of our workforce depends on this investment.

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