Wednesday, 30 January 2008

Job Opportunities for Gozitans (1)

One challenge of every administration in Gozo is to create jobs for Gozitans. Job opportunities in Gozo is a constant question I am faced with daily during my interaction with fellow Gozitans. Whether on the ferry crossing to Malta or at Bellusa's Cafe in Victoria, fellow Gozitans always raise this subject. The most concerned are parents whose children will be leaving school later this year. I enjoy engaging with people discussing this subject and today I thought to start share with you some ideas. Its a vast subject so I intend writing frequently on this subject in order not to bore you with long writings.

I really believe that it is possible to increase job opportunities for Gozitans and reduce unemployment. The most important differences between the Gozitan economy and that of mainland Malta are that in Gozo there is a higher rate of self-employment, relatively larger agriculture and fisheries sectors and a relatively smaller manufacturing sector. Traditionally, the unemployment rates in Gozo were always higher than was the case in mainland Malta. In order to counter this trend, inspired from Green politics and Green Economics, I believe in instilling pride in Gozitans in the uniqueness of our island and in preventing dependence on the state.

I am committed to instil within fellow Gozitan ideas about the new culture of entrepreneurship. During my constant interaction with Gozitans, I learned that due to the patronizing political strategies of the two major parties, some people (hence voters) in the street came to believe that the Government or the Ministry for Gozo is the sole provider of cushy jobs. However, within a culture of entrepreneurship which I envisage to foster, individuals will feel empowered and supported to make use of their own resources to develop themselves.

For example, young Gozitans can be encouraged to make effective use of the European Social Funds and other funding in the educational sector. Rather than depending on political favours and passively waiting for opportunities to come to them, individuals need to be empowered and supported to actively create the opportunities for themselves. This is what entrepreneurs do. I feel strongly against all the state beurocracy which is discouraging Gozitans to stand on their own feet and take their own initiatives. Like real Gozitans, I believe in entrepreneurship.

Let's take but one example for today's entry in my blog.

We are all aware that the agriculture sector in Gozo needs to be far more exploited in economical terms through several innovative ways. Because of its geological formation, Gozo is more fertile than mainland Malta. Vegetable and forage production is important for household consumption and as input for economic activities such as food processing and livestock rearing and dairy farming. Vegetation and management jobs as well as irrigation jobs will also cater for those Gozitans who want to invest in these areas. Horticulture is relatively underdeveloped in Gozo but there seems to be a good potential for its development. Investment into afforestation projects in Gozo hardly ever started and authorities are missing to creat jobs in arboriculture. Investments in environmental projects and ecological restoration will generate a multitude selection of jobs in this area such as Greenhouse jobs, floral and botanical garden jobs as well as interiorscape jobs. Organic farming does not only provide healthy produce but offers a number of related job opportunities in this sector. My dream is for Gozo to adopt a total organic farming model, as well as establishing itself as a GMO-free region. The island's products will require creative labeling and lots of clever marketing. Restaurants would switch to and specialize exclusively in organic cuisine. This way, Gozo will become a price-maker rather than a price taker. I will work hard to propagate the vision while constantly reminding present authorities to provide the fiscal and economic incentives, assist in the application of EU funding and facilitate the whole process. The direct economic benefits from such initiatives could be tremendous not only for the general income for the Gozitan economy but also for further job opportunities.

I would like to share with you the work of a foundation which I established two years ago -

The Ager Foundation operates as a non-governmental non-profit making organization. It aims to focus public attention on the value of safeguarding the natural environment for present and future generations.

Its principle mission is to improve the quality of the life of the local community within the context of a responsible tourism infrastructure by promoting sustainable rural development in the region island of Gozo.

Based on eco-tourism criteria, the foundation promotes the 'The Gozo experience', the first project of its kind by:

  1. Capitalising on the potential of the island of Gozo as sustainable tourist destination and a unique selling proposition: the people, the tradition of hospitality, the culture and countryside;
  2. Stabilizing the otherwise erratic seasonal pattern of Gozo tourism, agrotourism being an all weather service;
  3. Diverting the heavily weighted density of tourists from the traditional commercial resorts, primarily concentrated on the coast, in favour of the countryside in the hinterland;
  4. Marketing Gozo as a unique holiday destination while providing a focus of action and debate for participants (both service providers and service users) to promote and implement the values of responsibility and respect towards traditions and culture in an ecologically sustainable society.
The Ager Foundation serves as a catalyst and facilitator among Gozitan organizations and residents and fosters the sustainable, responsible development of the region-island as a unique tourist destination offering eco, agro as well as cultural and heritage projects of exceptionally high quality. Farmers, fishermen and their families discovered another source of income! They are earning money in a responsible way. Their sons and daughter realised that these are other job opportunities on their doorstep. I am so happy for them. The satisfaction I feel can't be easily explained here in writing.

Will share some other ideas with you soon....then let's call it Job Opportunities for Gozitans (2)

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Ager Foundation hija incentiva tajba li l-Maltin jistghu jitghallmu hafna aktar dwar il-gzira ta' Ghawdex ftit kilometri 'l boghod minnha. Proset Victor. You have our vote. We need fresh ideas.