The Malta Independent 15 October 2021, Friday

Technical skills

Alfred Sant MEP Thursday, 7 October 2021, 08:00 Last update: about 9 days ago

Much has been said about our educational needs and achievements but not so much about the need for technical skills and how these are being fostered. Indeed, one gets the impression that they are not highly prized. True, digital skills get highlighted in the list of educational targets, which is as it should be. However then, skills in the “old” technical trades – though these too have modernised extensively as they adapted to the advances of electronic technology – seem to be getting lower priority.

The phenomenon is not a recent one and it’s as if it gets rolled over from generation to generation. In the past, the most effective engine that taught technical skills in Malta was powered by the British services and the drydocks, which delivered top calibre “trades” people. But I remember that when the first technical secondary school was set up, one of the first polemics about it revolved around whether it should offer Latin studies in its curriculum or not!

The tendency is to consider technical studies as a second class option, when for the island – indeed for all countries – the prevalence of technical skills should be a paramount concern. We seem ready to accept that if technical skills here are in short supply, we could simply import them from elsewhere. 



The current rise in price levels will not fade quickly as a topic of controversy and speculation.  Is it for the short run or will it persist? How will it affect the ongoing decisions of  central banks? In a situation where globally, digitilisation has become the name of the game, how will inflation spread from sector to sector, and how fast?

Though these are some of the more frequent questions that get raised, I was impressed by a remark of a friend of mine – though later, I heard it also made by others.

In this view, what is strange in what’s happening is how many people there are who consider inflation as a totally novel development  that brings with it still unforeseeable consequences.

It is true that for decades now, inflation has not been bothering experts and politicians.

But then, the strictest rules that govern economic and financial policy making – especially in the eurozone – were designed long ago to curb inflation. They ignore practically all developments that occurred post the era when inflation was the leading issue.



One claim made about Strasbourg can certainly not be denied – that it is a beautiful city. Its buildings and character make one feel welcome.

Its major problem is that usually, arriving there and coming back is a hassle. Even the people of Strasbourg complain about that, not least when they have to transit via Frankfurt to go on holiday abroad.

Yet, to be quite clear: over the years, they themselves have been against plans to enlarge the city’s airport.

The sore point in all this is that meanwhile Strasbourg boasts of being the “capital” of Europe. That might have been the case when the EU consisted of six member states. Not any longer with 27.



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