Two ministers address GRTU conference celebrating SME week
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