valletta triton

More economic stakeholders are sounding the alarm about a spate of recent surveys whose findings are less than favourable, with one company founder comparing them to a “slap in the face”.

Mark Aquilina, founder and chief visionary officer at NOUV, is reacting to a survey commissioned by student media house FreeHour and conducted by Marketing Advisory Services which found that 80 per cent of young people feel they have been let down by the system, while 60 per cent would rather live in a European country.

This follows another survey conducted by audit firm EY last year, which similarly found that only 28 per cent of Gen-Z and 27 per cent of millennials said they would like to live and work in Malta.

When taken together with foreign businesses’ prioritisation of fixing Malta’s brand and reputation, and their singling out of the availability of skilled workers as a key factor influencing their future investment decisions, the picture is even more concerning.

Mr Aquilina argues that these results are a “slap in the face”, and a clear sign that Malta needs to change its course.

“If Malta had to be compared to a private company, its brand would be seriously compromised,” he says, adding that this is a serious worry for employers Indications that the country’s brand has become “seriously compromised” are very worrying for employers, he says, especially in a context where recruitment is already a challenge.

Mark Aquilina

“Malta’s journey and future seem far from sustainable”, Mr Aquilina explains. He adds that both as a parent as well as an employer who is continuously on the lookout for talent, the results are clearly saddening, but should also serve as a trigger for the nation to change its direction.

Asked to point out specific areas of action, Mr Aquilina highlights recent development in the tourism sector as a glaring example.

“Despite the obvious challenges on Malta’s infrastructure as a result of overpopulation and overcrowding, a recent study suggested that tourism figures need to be more than doubled if we are to meet the supply made available by current and future supply in the accommodation sector.”

Describing this proposal as “madness”, Mr Aquilina appeals for people to come to their senses: “Volumes do not always mean a better return on investment or a more robust tourism industry”.

He insists that the young generation has a lot to offer to the country’s sustainable economic growth, calling for a “revolution” in the way stakeholders can come together to discuss and make the best decisions for a better future.

“As a nation, we have always been strong-willed. It is time to settle for the right choices, for what’s right, for our young and future generations,” concludes Mr Aquilina, adding that he hopes the stark results serve to inspire authorities and all relevant stakeholders to address the current legacy.

As internal and externals shocks continue to come thick and fast, it seems clear that a major shift in economic thinking is required.

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