Thursday, 20 September 2012
The Need for A More Planned Economy
"A university graduate, Liam Gauci, said only two graduates out of 15 from the University of Malta's history course had found jobs, but none related to their field of study. "The government prizes IT students because their jobs are in demand by the industry, by paying them higher stipends. But graduates like myself haven't managed to find jobs except in some secretarial posts.'"
I was not surprised by Mr Liam Gauci's observation quoted above. I was not surprised at all! According to an article that appeared on the maltatoday website, Mr Gauci expressed his concern during one of the recent Labour Party Congress sessions held at Ta' Qali.
One of the saddest things about Mr Gauci's comment is that this situation has been with us for a fairly long time. After four years of very hard work and countless sacrifices, I graduated with an Honours degree in Psychology. Philosophy was my subsidiary area of study. Short of getting a scholarship to further my studies abroad, it was extremely difficult to find a decent job related to my degree. A small number of my university colleagues found jobs working in the HR (Human Resources) industry. Many others ended up working in areas that were almost totally unrelated to their studies. That was in 2001.
I still clearly remember that after a few months of job-hunting, I was eventually accepted for a government job which did not even require a university degree! Once all taxes were deducted, my monthly salary amounted to approximately € 815.00. It was painful to witness other people who had spent pretty much the same amount of time studying at university finding jobs quite easily and earning more money. Of course, the difference was that they had studied Accounts or Computer Programming. Till this day, it seems that most of the job vacancies in Malta are related to accountancy or IT skills. If you have pursued your childhood dream of studying, say, Archaeology, you might have a very hard time finding a decent job related to your studies!
In view of a situation whereby the time and the effort spent at university are far from being sufficient to guarantee easy access to the job market or to land a decent job that is somewhat linked to one's studies, a number of questions come to mind. First, what is the point of telling people that they are free to study whatever they want to when we are living in a society which clearly discriminates between individuals who study different subjects? Second, how exactly does an individual and society benefit when a person graduates from a course that is largely subsidised by public funds, only to spend a number of months unemployed or working in an area which does not require the skills acquired during the university years? Third, if our government was a truly caring one, wouldn't it take a more active role to ensure that ALL graduates could find decent jobs that could be somewhat linked to their studies?
Compared to other countries, the Maltese Islands are very small. It baffles me to see that in spite of our size, the present government is still unable to come up with a better strategy to deal with the problems mentioned above. I would say that there is a lack of political will to improve the situation. The Nationalist Party opposes the notion of having a more planned economy. As long as it is in power, it prefers to deliver the following message: "I am not here to guarantee jobs. I am only here to ensure that as the private sector thrives, it is able to comply with local laws and regulations. If you cannot find a decent job because of what you studied, too bad! Just keep trying to find something! I can put up a lot of vacancies all over the ETC offices, but I will not go into the match between those vacancies and the skills you have. If you studied something and are unable to find a related job, try to find someone to support you as you study something new for another two or three or more years! Good luck, mate!" That is pretty much the Nationalist Party's philosophy when it comes to helping university graduates to find good-quality jobs.
I believe that a Socialist government would be far more caring towards the country's university graduates. After years of hard work and sacrifice, such people deserve to be rewarded with decent jobs which could help them to grow as individuals. Jobs which could also help them to make a bigger contribution to society. For this to happen, the country would need to have a more planned economy. Without such an economy, many more graduates will surely continue struggling to find a decent job linked to their studies following graduation. Is this what we want for our country's graduates? Do we want to continue witnessing a situation whereby some graduates find good jobs fairly easily whilst many others are simply forgotten or deserted?