Two min­is­ters address GRTU con­fer­ence cel­e­brat­ing SME week

Malta Independent - - NEWS -

Min­is­ter for the Econ­omy, In­vest­ment and Small Busi­ness Chris Car­dona and the Min­is­ter for Com­pet­i­tive­ness, Dig­i­tal, Mar­itime and Ser­vices Econ­omy Em­manuel Mal­lia yes­ter­day ad­dressed the an­nual con­fer­ence by GRTU as part of the ac­tiv­i­ties cel­e­brat­ing SME week.

SME week is a pan-Euro­pean cam­paign co­or­di­nated by the Euro­pean Com­mis­sion that aims to pro­mote en­trepreneur­ship in Europe, and helps ex­ist­ing small and medium en­ter­prises find in­for­ma­tion on avail­able sup­port.

The GRTU’s con­fer­ence, en­ti­tled ‘Gear­ing Mal­tese en­ter­prises to con­quer to­day’s chal­lenges,’ was aimed at help­ing and di­rectly address the in­di­vid­ual and mul­ti­ple chal­lenges Mal­tese busi­nesses face. A num­ber of work­shops were held on EU fund­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties, dig­i­tal mar­ket­ing, in­ter­nal­i­sa­tion and aid in ex­plor­ing new mar­kets, em­ploy­ment and in­no­va­tion.

Min­is­ter Car­dona said the govern­ment is com­mit­ted in con­tin­u­ing to cre­ate favourable con­di­tions for busi­nesses to grow and in­no­vate, whilst nur­tur­ing macroe­co­nomic fac­tors that har­bour growth. Tar­get­ing SMEs is es­sen­tial since they are the pil­lar of the Mal­tese econ­omy, and it is down to these eco­nomic play­ers that Malta cur­rently boasts one of the fastest-grow­ing and suc­cess­ful economies in Europe.

“Keep­ing things into per­spec­tive is es­sen­tial and we must re­main con­scious of the com­pe­ti­tion and ac­tively iden­tify the chal­lenges SMEs face as we con­tinue to in­crease our pres­ence fur­ther as we com­pete glob­ally,” said Min­is­ter Car­dona.

Min­is­ter Car­dona as­sured ev­ery­one that the up­com­ing Bud­get for 2017 will con­tinue to work for greater ac­cess to fi­nance and sup­port to in­no­va­tive com­pa­nies, whilst in­creas­ing the em­pha­sis on in­vest­ment in the coun­try’s in­fra­struc­ture.

The World Eco­nomic Fo­rum and the most re­cent Em­ployee Skills Sur­vey by Job­splus, in col­lab­o­ra­tion with Malta En­ter­prise, both iden­ti­fied an in­ad­e­quate­lye­d­u­cated work­force as a cur­rent is­sue and one that the econ­omy will be fac­ing for the next cou­ple of years.

Dr Car­dona ap­pealed to ed­u­ca­tors and em­ploy­ers alike the need to em­brace a cul­ture of in­house train­ing and fos­ter­ing the nec­es­sary mo­ti­va­tion in stu­dents and em­ploy­ees for fur­ther spe­cial­i­sa­tion and devel­op­ment.

Min­is­ter Mal­lia also stressed the ne­ces­sity for busi­nesses to adapt to the cur­rent dig­i­tal age.

“Dig­i­tal­i­sa­tion has rev­o­lu­tionised the way we ac­cess in­for­ma­tion act­ing as the main threat to or­gan­i­sa­tions or the so­lu­tion they need to em­brace in or­der to sur­vive. It is fore­seen that 75% of to­day’s busi­nesses would not have the same for­mat in 10 years’ time,” said Min­is­ter Mal­lia.

The growth of the dig­i­tal econ­omy brings upon us a new pol­icy and reg­u­la­tory chal­lenges which need to be met with an ac­cord­ing and timely fash­ion, cap­ping on the Euro­pean Union’s pro­posal of mea­sures to sup­port busi­ness en­ter­ing new mar­kets, with an in­vest­ment of €50 bil­lion of public and pri­vate funds to up­grade Europe’s dig­i­tal in­no­va­tion ca­pac­i­ties.

The min­is­ter de­scribed the vast op­por­tu­ni­ties the Euro­pean Union of­fers in pro­mot­ing SMEs, com­menc­ing from the En­ter­prise Europe Net­work, which brings to­gether no less than 600 busi­ness sup­port or­gan­i­sa­tions, the Euro­pean Com­mis­sion’s pro­gramme de­signed for Com­pet­i­tive­ness En­ter­prise, COSME, as well as an­other pro­gramme di­rected towards SME’s Hori­zon 2020 tar­get­ing highly in­no­va­tive SMEs, with strong am­bi­tion for growth, com­pet­i­tive­ness and in­ter­na­tion­al­i­sa­tion.

On a lo­cal level, a num­ber of ini­tia­tives have been un­der­taken to en­sure that we lever­age the full po­ten­tial of Euro­pean Struc­tural In­vest­ment Funds con­tri­bu­tion to sup­port lo­cal en­ter­prises. With a bud­get of €454 bil­lion for 2014 to 2020, Min­is­ter Mal­lia added, the Euro­pean Struc­tural In­vest­ment Funds will de­liver a crit­i­cal mass of in­vest­ment in key EU pri­or­ity ar­eas by sup­port­ing job cre­ation and get­ting the Euro­pean econ­omy grow­ing once more in a sus­tain­able way.

Both Min­is­ter Car­dona and Min­is­ter Mal­lia com­mended the GRTU for or­gan­is­ing a con­fer­ence which aimed at chal­leng­ing the at­tend­ing busi­nesses’ cur­rent set­ups, whilst also giv­ing them the nec­es­sary en­cour­age­ment and tools.

Chris Car­dona and Em­manuel Mal­lia Photo: Jonathan Borg

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