HSBC Malta Foundation’s internship programme hits record numbers, offering unparalleled learning experiences

HSBC Malta Foundation is proud to announce the participation of a record 30 interns in its comprehensive summer internship and two-year internship programmes. A partnership initiative with the Malta College of Arts, Science and Technology (MCAST), the University of Malta, the JAYE (Young Enterprise) Malta Foundation, and HSBC Insurance Malta, these programmes bolster the Foundation’s ongoing commitment to fostering young talent, preparing them for the rigours of the financial services sector.

This year’s intake includes many students who recently took part in the Junior Achievers International programme. Several other interns are currently in their first or second year of study at MCAST while others are reading for a degree at the University of Malta.

HSBC Malta prides itself on the success stories of its interns. Historical trends show that a significant number of interns transition into full-time roles after their time at HSBC.

During their time at the bank, these aspiring young professionals are given the opportunity to work within the bank’s global functions or business lines, benefiting from the expertise of senior management and executives. Their journey provides them with insights into the bank’s operations, understanding its customer-centric approach, and overarching strategy.

The students expressed their appreciation for the flexibility offered by the bank, including remote working options in line with modern work dynamics. The opportunity to rotate across different areas and get a taste of various aspects of the bank was also a highlight for many. The positive company culture hasn’t gone unnoticed, with many students saying they enjoyed the working environment and their colleagues. The interns were particularly grateful for the wealth of opportunities handed to them while emphasising just how much they learned over a relatively short period of time.

Geoffrey Fichte, CEO at HSBC Malta commenting on the programme, said, “Our internship initiatives echo HSBC’s deep-rooted commitment to shaping future entrepreneurs and successful career stories. Such internships are not just about gaining practical experience; they are about bridging the existing knowledge gap between academic learning and real-world industry needs. Involving youngsters in a corporate setting at an early stage on nurtures an entrepreneurial spirit, which is vital for Malta’s economy, especially when addressing the skills gap that many employers face today.”

Inclusive Futures – Transforming the Workplace

The Malta Chamber of Commerce, Enterprise and Industry in collaboration with MCAST, organised the ‘AGORA Inclusive Futures – Transforming the Workplace’ conference with the aim of discussing the challenges and solutions in integrating disadvantaged groups, including those with socio-economic and migration backgrounds, disabilities, learning difficulties, and low skills into the workforce.

In his opening remarks, Chris Vassallo Cesareo, The Malta Chamber President, noted that the workplace is undergoing a transformation. “It is evolving from a mere space for economic transactions to a vibrant community where diversity, inclusivity, and equal opportunities are not just encouraged but celebrated. The Malta Chamber has been at the forefront of advocating for practices that recognise and embrace the varied tapestry of our workforce,” he said.

In his speech on MCAST’s role in preparing disadvantaged groups for the work environment, Dr John Bartolo, Director for Support Services at MCAST emphasised that educators and employers need to create and support systems that leave no one behind.

Since this event was organised as part of the GIVE Project, Duncan Vella, Deputy Director Curriculum – Key skills and Centre for Learning & Employability at MCAST, explained how with the right attitudes, the GIVE Project will have an impact at local and European level to support students from vulnerable groups achieve social inclusion and transition into meaningful employment.

During a panel discussion moderated by Diana Miceli, Projects Manager at The Malta Chamber, an array of business leaders and industry experts shared their experiences and knowledge on current best practices in creating inclusive workplaces. The panel was made up of:
• Olivia Farrugia, Head of Jobseekers Division, Jobsplus
• Joseph Zammit, Deputy Director – Inclusive Education, MCAST
• Daniel Schembri, Executive Director, ThinkTalent
• Danica Ann Attard, HR Business Partner, Toly Products
• Esmeralda Micallef Zarafa, Chief Executive Officer, Lino Spiteri Foundation

This conference was organised as part of the ‘Governance for Inclusive Vocation Excellence’ (GIVE) Project, co-funded by the Erasmus+ Programme of the European Union, 621199-EPP-1-2021-1-IT-EPPKA3-VET-COVE. The main aim of the GIVE Project is to contribute to the innovation in the VET sector for the social inclusion of individuals belonging to disadvantaged groups, with particular reference to learners with a migration background, disabilities, low skills, a drop-out history, special educational needs, and socio-economic disadvantages.

New EU Short-Term Rental Regulation promotes level playing-field

The Malta Business Bureau welcomes this week’s EU political agreement on the EU Short-Term Rental Regulation. The boom of short-term rental services through digital platforms during the last decade has provided benefits for both private hosts and tourism in general. However it has also raised concerns in several local communities, particularly those facing issues like affordable housing shortages.

The Short Term Rental Regulation will enhance data collection and sharing from hosts and online platforms to provide public authorities valuable insights for developing effective and proportionate local policies to address the challenges and opportunities associated with the private short-term rental sector. The new rules will enhance transparency regarding the identification and activities of private hosts and simplify the registration process of properties used for the purpose of short-term renting with public authorities. They will also address the current fragmentation in data sharing practices among online platforms, ultimately aiding in the prevention of illegal listings.

Commenting on the agreement, MBB President Alison Mizzi stated; “This agreement marks a significant milestone as it addresses the negative impacts brought on by the lack of basic rules for private short-term rentals, the lack of transparency among online platforms, and lack of enforcement. The new regulation will thus bring a more level playing-field between private short-term rentals and traditional accommodation providers should member states implement the rules rigorously and start earnestly collecting data to get a more accurate picture of the impact of private short term rental activity, and by deploying sufficient resources to exert the necessary enforcement.”

For further information on the EU Short-Term Rental Regulation, please contact the Malta Business Bureau on .

The Malta Business Bureau is the EU business advisory organisation of The Malta Chamber and The Malta Hotels and Restaurants Association. It is also a partner of the Enterprise Europe Network.

The Malta Chamber welcomes Advocate General stand on the EU Mobility Package 1

The Malta Chamber of Commerce, Enterprise and Industry welcomes the Opinion by the Advocate General on the EU Mobility Package 1 earlier this week, proposing to the European Court of Justice to strike off the provision of the compulsory return of heavy goods vehicles to the member state of establishment every 8 weeks. The Malta Chamber has for long cooperated with its network of business organizations at EU level and argued that this provision introduced during the EU legislative process clearly goes against the principles of the European Green Deal. It was inexplicable how returning trucks to the Member State of establishment is compatible with the general principles of the economy, operational efficiency, and climate protection goals.

This would result in a dramatic impact on the increase in transport emissions in the EU, thus impeding the EU in its long-term goals of achieving a 90 percent reduction in transport emissions and climate-neutrality by 2050. Road transport operators had warned EU legislators that most vehicles required to return to their Member State of establishment would travel empty, which would result in unnecessary additional traffic on the continent’s road network.

Moreover, this measure is also excessively restrictive and discriminatory against peripherical countries, including island states such as Malta, and will put Maltese road haulage companies at a disadvantage, given that they would be required to board a ferry compared to other operators that would only be required to cross a land border. As a result, this would add disproportionate additional costs to the road transport operators and consequently to business clients and end consumers.

The Malta Chamber thanks the Maltese Government for its efforts in the case before the European Court of Justice and looks forward to a favourable sentence next year. Looking ahead The Malta Chamber reiterates its call for the European Commission to introduce criteria for a ‘Territorial Proofing’ or ‘Insularity Test’ to complement the Competitiveness Check as part of the overall impact assessment process to identify provisions that would negatively impact specific member states for conditions derived by their geographic location. Furthermore, it emphasizes the need for impact assessments to take place on significant changes introduced by the EU Council and the European Parliament during the legislative process, which in cases such as the Mobility Package I would have identified the inconsistency of such a provision with the EU Treaties and the overall EU climate policy.

The Malta Chamber and Maypole Group sign Silver Collaboration Agreement

The Malta Chamber of Commerce, Enterprise and Industry have signed a Silver Collaboration Agreement with Maypole Group to collaborate together on initiatives that will benefit Malta’s business community.

Chris Vassallo Cesareo, The Malta Chamber President, ahead of the signing said that “The Malta Chamber is constantly enhancing its ability to formulate policies and refine its stance on various national priority issues. To this end, we are proud to be partnering with Maypole Group. Through their invaluable expertise and indispensable resources, Maypole Group are ideal partners in supporting The Malta Chamber to be at the forefront of bringing positive change within the business sphere.”

Following the signature of this agreement, Mario Debono, Managing Director of the Maypole Group, said that this cooperation agreement marks a significant milestone for the Maypole Group and opens up new avenues for collaboration, growth and community engagement. This partnership will not only enhance Maypole’s visibility within the business community but will also provide valuable resources, networking opportunities and support for Maypole’s future endeavours. We believe that, together, we can achieve great things and make a positive impact on our local economy. Mr Debono continued saying that, as we move forward, Maypole is confident that this collaboration will lead to mutually beneficial opportunities. Mr Debono concluded by thanking The Malta Chamber of Commerce, Enterprise and Industry for the ongoing commitment to the business community.

The agreement was signed by Chris Vassallo Cesareo, Nicholas Xuereb and Dr Marthese Portelli, President, Deputy President and CEO of The Malta Chamber respectively, and Mario Debono and Sebestian Debono, Directors at Maypole Group.

Bank-wide team building spurs synergies for BNF employees

It was all fun and games for BNF Bank employees as they all came together for the day dedicated to build connections across units, departments and branches. Held in November at the Xara Lodge in Rabat, the 250-plus strong team took part in a variety of activities and exercises designed to strengthen bonds and   challenge the boundaries of creativity outside of the office.  These activities required collaboration, strategic thinking, and effective communication, reinforcing the importance of teamwork in the workplace.

BNF Bank has always been committed to promoting a positive workplace culture, and this team building event forms part of management’s ongoing efforts to maintaining a healthy ambience by strengthening the team’s bonds and create spaces where relationships can grow.

“Our team is a prized stakeholder, and we are committed to creating a positive and collaborative work environment,” said Karl Dingli, Head of Human Resources, Property and Administration Department at BNF Bank. “We acknowledge the fact that our team is the foundation of our success, and the efforts targeting people development and employee well-being are an investment. We believe in the personal and professional growth of our people.  Such an initiative draws on the strengths of individual team members, helping to break down barriers, encouraging possible under-utilised skills and facilitating open communication”.

An end-of-day networking session offered an additional valuable opportunity for cross department interaction, developing stronger connections amongst colleagues.

Banks’ sustainability incentives key factor for prospective homeowners – KPMG report

BOV Chairman and CEO participate in panel discussions at the presentation of the report

Prospective homeowners who plan to buy their property by means of a bank loan tend to give high importance to sustainability incentives offered by banks, as well as the availability of online home loan application capability, and flexibility offered for home loan appointments. These insights were presented during the latest Construction Industry and Property Market Report, conducted by KPMG and which was co-sponsored by Bank of Valletta alongside other local banks and sponsors.

During a panel discussion on affordability concerns, Bank of Valletta CEO Mr Kenneth Farrugia stressed the importance to incentivise the development of sustainable properties, with a particular focus on the social elements of ESG that complement environmental incentives and good governance principles. “Bank of Valletta is experiencing an increase in the demand for sustainable properties, covering both commercial and residential developments. Within this context, the Bank has introduced attractive green financing solutions, such as the Business Energy Loan. Such incentives will certainly make access to finance more attractive and affordable.”

Mr Farrugia also mentioned that, given the importance that prospective homeowners give to flexibility and accessibility in the home loan process, Bank of Valletta introduced a digital home loan application portal that offers a better experience for those customers wishing to apply for their loans online.  With regards to property affordability and current inflationary concerns, Mr Farrugia said that the Maltese economy has remained somewhat shielded from challenging external factors, with Malta registering an economic growth of 4% and unemployment levels at their lowest ever. “This has enabled Bank of Valletta to keep bank-based interest rates stable over this period.”

During a separate panel discussion titled ‘The Implications of a New Economic Model’, BOV Chairman and leading economist, Dr Gordon Cordina said that there is no need to reinvent the wheel when it comes to revisiting economic models. “It is somewhat a natural process that economic models need to be revisited every so often. What the country is currently experiencing, are growing pains that are part of the growth process as the country continues to evolve.”

Dr Cordina went on to stress the importance for landowners to act responsibly for the greater common good. “ESG requirements are becoming ever more a reality in today’s world and will become even more stringent in the near future. Good governance should be the order of the day and all parties involved in land development should also be responsible for assessing the impact on other factors such as traffic generation and pollution”.

The BOV Business Energy Loan is financially supported by the Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Malta Fund (EERE) which is co-financed by the Republic of Malta and the European Union under the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF). The objective of this fund of funds and its first loss guarantee combined with an interest rate subsidy scheme is to support the access of the final recipients for their investments in energy efficiency and renewable energy measures.

Maltese business delegation participates in the European Parliament of Enterprises

This week, a delegation of The Malta Chamber of Commerce, Enterprise and Industry and Malta Business Bureau participated in the European Parliament of Enterprises (EPE) organised by Eurochambres, the European Association of Chambers of Commerce. The EPE is the largest event in Brussels recreating a parliamentary session giving the floor to entrepreneurs and represents a unique opportunity for businesses to have a direct debate with high representatives of the EU institutions on EU policies. During the EPE, entrepreneurs also expressed their opinion on several questions through a voting procedure on major EU business-related issues.

Discussing ‘Unlocking the potential of the single market for skills and human capital’, The Malta Chamber President Chris Vassallo Cesareo stated, “The private sector is keen on turning workplaces into learning centres to promote upskilling and reskilling of people, but it cannot face this challenging task on its own. EU funding towards training programmes, educational grants, and skills forecasting tools, are critical to complement and build on the investment already undertaken by business.”

On ‘Navigating the energy crisis’, Malta Business Bureau President Alison Mizzi emphasized that, “focusing solely on currently available solutions must not come at the expense of continued innovation. EU policy must be forward-looking, flexible, and fast to anticipate technological developments which we will certainly see in the coming years.”

With regards to ‘Strengthening Europe’s competitiveness in uncertain times”, The Malta Chamber Deputy President Nick Xuereb highlighted that, “SMEs potential for growth through international trade is significant. The inclusion of dedicated SME Chapters in Free Trade Agreements aimed at improving transparency and increase access to information is welcome. But more effort is required so that rules are harmonised as much as possible. This is key to provide a level playing field for all companies, especially SMEs, to compete globally.”

During this visit, the delegation also had the opportunity to meet European Parliament President Roberta Metsola to discuss some of the challenges being faced by Maltese businesses as a result of EU legislation that does not look at the specific realities of island states. Changes to the EU governance in view of future EU enlargement was also discussed.

Other members of the delegation included Dr. Marthese Portelli, Mr. William Spiteri Bailey, Mr. Mark Bajada, Mr. Brian Muscat, Mr. Sergio Vella, Mr. Joe Tanti, and Mr. Daniel Debono.

The visit was organised by the Brussels office of the Malta Business Bureau (MBB). The MBB is the EU-business advisory organization of The Malta Chamber and the Malta Hotels and Restaurants Association. It is also a partner of the Enterprise Europe Network.

Unlocking the potential of the Single Market for skills and human capital

The below is the speech given by Chris Vassallo Cesareo, The Malta Chamber President, during a skills session at the European Parliament of Enterprises in Brussels

New skills are continuously emerging whilst others are sunsetting especially in fast-paced industries undergoing digital transformations such as automisation and artificial intelligence.

Upskilling and reskilling have become an essential part of day-to-day business operations, and this requires an investment which may be significant for companies, especially SMEs, considering the cost-inflationary pressures that have eaten up an important size of their revenue in the last years.

In a tight labour market like the one we are experiencing today, hiring specialized employees may be a lengthy and costly process, especially if one must look beyond the EU into third countries’ labour market.

The private sector is keen on turning workplaces into learning centres to promote upskilling and reskilling of people, but it cannot face this challenging task on its own. EU funding towards training programmes, educational grants, and skills forecasting tools, are critical to complement and build on the investment already undertaken by business.

The competitiveness of EU companies is at stake and we must ensure that the right level of funding is available to secure the right skills set to shape the digital transition rather than be conditioned by it.