The Malta Chamber believes in the importance of having a holistic discussion on inclusivity

In a meeting with Minister for Inclusion and Social Wellbeing, Hon. Julia Farrugia Portelli, President of The Malta Chamber, Marisa Xuereb said, “It is crucial that we emphasise on the importance of having a holistic discussion on inclusivity by including mental health into the discussion.”

President Xuereb added that it is important for employers to know and understand the necessities of their employees to be able to understand how best to help them.

Minister Farrugia Portelli, together with Permanent Secretary Mr Matthew Vella Chairperson of the Autism Advisory Council Mr Alistair De Gaetano, and Ms Edwina Gouder Senior Manager at the Ministry presented the recently launched Malta National Autism Strategy 2021-2030 to The Malta Chamber.

The Malta Chamber provided its feedback and emphasised on:

1. The importance of promoting programmes such as Vocational Assessment, Support, Training & Employment VASTE that benefit both employers and job seekers.
2. To further facilitate and improve the process of preparing employers to offer productive and long-term inclusive employment.
3. The introduction of Employment Support Workers to facilitate a smoother transition into employment.

President Xuereb was joined by CEO Dr Marthese Portelli, The Malta Chamber’s representative on the Malta Business Disability Forum, chaired by the Commission for the Rights of Persons with Disability (CRPD) Mr Tonio Axisa, Mr Shawn Pisani and Policy Development Executive Ms Julia Aquilina.

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BNF Bank employees get casual for generosity

Forming part of the bank’s culture, BNF Bank’s team is constantly active and ready to help in areas of society where social lacunae exist through various Corporate and Social Responsibility initiatives. Despite staff working remotely since March 2020, BNF Bank employees truly embraced the value of solidarity during these past months. The collective drive of the team has been acknowledged through the bank-wide monthly staff initiative #YourCause, organised on every last Friday of the month with employees donating money for different causes nominated by themselves. During the pandemic, the pleas for assistance increased and each contribution filled donors and recipients with a heart-warming feeling and much needed empathy in trying times.

Already a good number of NGOs and individuals have been assisted throughout 2021. BNF Bank started the year by supporting St.Jeanne Antide Foundation through Terra Di Mezzo (TDM) 2000, a holistic Non-Governmental Organisation which helps vulnerable individuals and families who are suffering due to difficult life circumstances whilst creating opportunities for youth members to become active in society. With a goal of opening Hospice Malta’s first palliative care complex in St. Venera, BNF Bank employees together with management contributed a generous sum during the organisation’s telethon Bl-Imħabba Naslu.

BNF staff donated essential food items to Foodbank Lifeline Foundation to help over 300 family members who through no fault of their own would have found themselves in hardship. In an effort to mark World Autism Month, the bank called for employees to ‘Draw for Autism’, as a sign of support to families and individuals, affected by the condition. The donations like the drawings made the lives of the beneficiaries a little bit more colourful.

With an outpouring call of support from BNF employees, following a national appeal by local football Marsa FC player Patrick Maia and his family, employees enthusiastically helped Luca Maia receive the treatment he requires from his aggressive metastatic cancer. Fondazzjoni Sebħ’s mission was also endorsed to extend a supporting hand to children, young people and survivors of domestic violence.

“Giving back to the community is something BNF Bank strongly believes in and through these initiatives we empathise in a tangible way, with those members of society who pass through difficult situations”, said Michael Collis, Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director at BNF Bank. “We support and promote this drive of solidarity. It is very satisfying to see our staff engaging enthusiastically while contributing money and personal time to these monthly initiatives for the benefit of underprivileged and needy people in society”.

Connecting business leaders through a very successful Young Chamber Network Summer Get Together

Members of the Young Chamber Network (YCN) within The Malta Chamber of Commerce, Enterprise and Industry had the exclusive opportunity to meet, network and make meaningful connections during the YCN Summer Get Together event.

Keith Demicoli, Head of Communications and Business Development at The Malta Chamber, welcomed guests and explained the vision and aim of YCN in providing a space for young entrepreneurs and career-minded professionals to come together, connect, reconnect, collaborate and be inspired from like-minded people.

While adhering to the COVID-19 restrictions, all participants introduced themselves to the group, providing a strong basis for a successful networking session.

The Malta Chamber wishes to thank Panta, FarsonsDirect, AX The Palace Hotel and Chemimart for their support.

We must act now as we owe it to the next generation

The Malta Chamber of Commerce, Enterprise and Industry is unequivocal that the outcome of the Daphne Caruana Galizia murder inquiry cannot be trivialised or ignored.

The President of The Malta Chamber, Ms Marisa Xuereb said that “we must act now on what needs to be done without further procrastination as we owe it to our people and to the next generation. The country has gone through an ugly spiral that culminated in the death of a journalist, a heinous crime that seared our collective conscience and damaged our international reputation in a profound way.”

“We cannot truly heal before we all detach ourselves from partisan emotions and commit to an objective assessment of failings and an honest and unconditional process of reform, centred around the values of transparency, accountability, integrity, and civic responsibility at all levels of Government, politics, journalism, business, and social interaction,” said Ms Xuereb.

The Malta Chamber reiterates that corruption is bad for everyone, but it is especially bad for business. It favours the few at the expense of the many ethical businesses who are unfairly excluded, or worse still, compromised by having to settle for the crumbs that fall off the table in full knowledge that they are not operating on a level playing field. The outcome of the public inquiry is stark reminder to be fair to everyone since it is not big business, but corruption that has brought the country to its knees. Not every big business is corrupt, just as not every politician is corrupt. It is in this spirit that The Malta Chamber has consistently promoted ethical business and appealed for good governance at all levels of Government, politics, business and regulation.

In the context of business, public procurement is extremely sensitive. The Chamber has published a detailed report on public procurement reform that it expects all entities involved to take very seriously.

“We cannot continue to justify unfair practices on the grounds of a lack of resources or expediency. We cannot continue to trivialise wrongdoings because others may have done worse. We cannot continue to turn a blind eye on unethical behaviour and blatant conflicts of interest for fear of losing favour. We need to consistently adopt a high moral ground in everything we do,” said the President of The Malta Chamber.

This has far-reaching implications for the way we do business, but also for the way we conduct journalism, for the way we finance politics and for the way we appoint public officers. Let us all be brave and rise to the challenge of doing what needs to be done without further procrastination. We owe it to the next generation.

Panta Group Sponsors upcoming Young Chamber Network Event

The Malta Chamber Young Chamber Network is organising a Summer Get Together. This member-exclusive event will allow attendees to connect and network with like-minded individuals and local business leaders.

Panta Group are the official sponsors of this upcoming event. Katrina Attard, Panta CEO explained, “Panta is proud to be supporting the Young Chamber Network, it’s a pleasure to be given the opportunity to support other likeminded, forward-thinking business people and encourage safe networking – a necessary step to strike the right balance in a world defined by the new normal.‘’

Due to Covid restrictions, strict measures will be adhered to throughout the event. All attendees will be asked to provide a vaccination certificate upon entering the venue. Members will be placed on tables of six to ensure social distancing is maintained. The event will kick-off with introductory speeches but will mainly focus on the structured networking session.

The networking event will be taking place on the 29th of July from 19:00 till 22:00, at the AX Palace Hotel in Sliema.

Established in 2019, the aim of the YCN is to bring together a high-powered pool of individuals who can support each other within the context of The Malta Chamber. It is worth noting that almost 25% of Chamber members fall under the YCN group, with this number growing constantly.

Through a newly established steering committee, the YCN’s objective is to provide a community through networking opportunities that drive positive changes while allowing members to grow both professionally and personally.

The Malta Chamber would also like to thank Farsons Direct, AX The Palace and Chemimart for their support.

📷 Daryl Cauchi

The Malta Chamber and GWU to promote active ageing and address legal anomalies

The Malta Chamber of Commerce, Enterprise and Industry, and the General Workers’ Union signed a framework agreement on active ageing and intergenerational approach to ensure a healthy, safe, and productive working environment to enable workers to remain in the labour market and facilitate the transfer of knowledge and experience between generations.

The two social partners acknowledged the strong need for policies in the context of the Maltese labour market to ensure that valuable human resource and experience is retained for as long as possible. They will promote good practices through a digital tool which will be made available to the public.

Ms Marisa Xuereb, President of The Malta Chamber said “active ageing and intergenerational approach policies can be part of the solution in addressing labour market challenges. The contribution of senior professionals and workers is key to the success of our businesses and the economy.”
Ms Xuereb said that The Malta Chamber and the GWU identified legal anomalies in the fiscal treatment of workers that retire at a certain age which go against the spirit of active ageing and are committed to address these issues jointly with the Government.

“The GWU supports all workers, including those who decide to continue working after reaching their retirement age. We believe that employees with long years of experience have a lot to offer to their organisations’ culture and the rest of the team. It is important to keep promoting active ageing as these employees have a lot to offer. The intergenerational approach brings the best mixture among employees because academic knowledge and experience are the best compositions to favour businesses. This agreement is putting us in a better position to keep supporting and protecting active ageing collectively. Working hand-in-hand with The Malta Chamber is a good step in the right direction to reach our aims together. This is the second autonomies framework agreement signed together with the Malta Chamber,” said Mr Josef Bugeja, Secretary General of the GWU.

The agreement was signed by Ms Marisa Xuereb and Dr Marthese Portelli as President and CEO of The Malta Chamber respectively, and Mr Victor Carachi and Mr Josef Bugeja, President and Secretary General of the GWU respectively.

Totally unreasonable to put fully vaccinated secondary contacts in quarantine

The Malta Chamber urges the health authorities to rethink the existing quarantine measures which should be focused on a risk-based approach for fully vaccinated people.

As over 81% of the adult population in Malta is fully vaccinated against COVID-19 and a growing body of scientific evidence suggests that fully vaccinated people are less likely to carry asymptomatic infection or transmit the virus to others, the Malta Chamber of Commerce, Enterprise and Industry believes that it is totally unreasonable to put these people under a mandatory 14-day quarantine when they are secondary contacts of confirmed cases. Employers are ending up bearing the brunt of all this, especially where people cannot work from home.
The Malta Chamber is aware of entire households of fully vaccinated people which have been put into 14-day mandatory quarantine because one of their children who has already taken the first jab attends a summer school programme where a child has tested positive. This is most unreasonable.

“If we really believe that vaccines break the chain of contagion, we need to be pragmatic and shouldn’t be placing fully vaccinated secondary contacts in quarantine,” said Ms Marisa Xuereb, President of The Malta Chamber.

Furthermore, quarantine letters are being issued to all members of a household without specifying personal Identification. Clearly, no checks are being made on whether the members of that household are vaccinated or not.

The Malta Chamber is seriously concerned with this situation, which is greatly reducing the productive capacity of business operators. On the one hand employers are being asked to encourage their employees to get vaccinated when on the other hand the authorities are not treating fully vaccinated employees any differently from those who are still refusing to be vaccinated.

The Malta Chamber urges authorities not to take unreasonable decisions and knee-jerk reactions. According to the rolling 7-day average issued by the Health Authorities, the daily new hospital admissions for COVID-19 remains below 0.8% of the total active cases.

Malta Chamber and MCAST Colloquium on Future Skills

The Malta College for Arts, Science and Technology (MCAST) and the Malta Chamber organised an Education-Industry Colloquium to discuss skill needs in the coming years. The forum entitled 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.

The discussion also centred around recent data showing that 50% of all employees will need reskilling by 2025, as adoption of technology increases and around 40% of workers acknowledge that they require reskilling of six months or less. The panel speakers representing different sectors and over seventy participants were encouraged to propose forward-looking actions and collaborative measures to address the situation in Malta.

Minister for Education Justyne Caruana said, “The Government will continue to ensure that the education sector, in particular MCAST, is geared up to anticipate the challenges that the country faces. We need to lead the vision of the skills required for current and future jobs in Malta. In the aftermath of the disruptive COVID-19 period, more regular dialogue with various stakeholders is necessary so that we can take immediate effective action.”

Malta Chamber President Ms Marisa Xuereb said, “We urge the industry to do its part and engage from the start of our student’s educational journey. To bridge the gap between MCAST and the industry, we must identify the shortages and needs of the industry. Thus, educational courses must ensure that these gaps are addressed and actioned upon. We should prioritise the educational experience through the involvement of business leaders to provide a more practical experience.”

MCAST Principal and CEO Professor Joachim James Calleja emphasised the importance of synergising the efforts of the education and the business sectors. “We need industry on campus, and we also need the College and its people to be in industry as frequently as possible. MCAST has recently concluded an extensive public consultation about its second Strategic Plan covering 2022-2027. We want to achieve more visibility of different scenarios that can affect the provision of education and training. Students need to be aware of the learning and work opportunities even when they are in secondary school.”

Proper consultation remains key for effective implementation of electrification of vehicles

This week, The Malta Chamber’s Sustainable Mobility committee agreed on a pathway towards the electrification of the vehicle fleet. In view of the proposed national cut-off date for Malta to phase out fossil fuel vehicles, The Malta Chamber is emphasizing the need for an electric vehicle masterplan for the country to achieve its sustainability goals in a timely and ambitious manner.

Such a needed masterplan would extend to all sectors of the economy which would be affected by this change, and must therefore be underpinned by extensive stakeholder engagement.

The Malta Chamber urges government to hit the ground running in preparing for this transition. Aside from planning for charging infrastructure, which may in part be paired with adequate parking, The Malta Chamber is bringing to Government’s attention the need to train people for the maintenance and repairs of electric vehicles, amongst other key skillsets.

The Civil Protection Department must likewise be equipped, upskilled and given the proper know-how to be able to intervene in accidents involving electric vehicles. The far-reaching impact of the electrification of the vehicle fleet will require extensive communication and information dissemination from government to stakeholders and society at large, ensuring that all are well equipped to meet their obligations and commitments, and are likewise positioned to benefit as much as possible from the transition.

While the path ahead will present many challenges, the electrification of the vehicle fleet offers increased quality of life, cleaner air and new economic opportunities. Handled correctly, it will position Malta as a pioneer and a leader. As a microstate and island-nation, Malta is well positioned to be one of the main success stories of this new chapter in mobility.

The Malta Chamber’s Sustainable Mobility committee, which brings key industry leaders around the table, will continue to play its part to facilitate the successful electrification of the country’s vehicle fleet, in close collaboration with government and all stakeholders.