The Cittadella Traineeship Scheme

The 100 figure of “new employees” stationed at the Ċittadella is factually wrong on two counts – firstly because 43 is not 100, and secondly because traineeship scheme participants have never been put on the state payroll

The idea has never been to give these participants a government employment
The idea has never been to give these participants a government employment

I refer to the news report penned by Saviour Balzan, published on Sunday, 11 June 2017 entitled: “Power of incumbency: some 1,000 Gozitans got jobs weeks before election”. More specifically, I refer to the excerpt where Mr Balzan asserted that: “Over 100 new employees from the Gozo ministry were stationed at the Cittadella in Victoria. Their attendance was noted by a palm-reader machine, but this was retained after the employees complained about the reader.”

I feel duty-bound to reply for two main and simple reasons, the first being to correct factual inaccuracies regarding the Ċittadella Traineeship Scheme. This scheme, co-funded by ESF 2014-2020, has 43 participants. They are grouped into six teams with each participant being assigned specific roles matched to his or her skills. There are mainly two stakeholders in this scheme: JobsPlus as the administrator of the scheme and the Ministry for Gozo, as the training service provider, who for this purpose, provided two foremen and five supervisors to manage and assist the participants. JobsPlus also sends regular unannounced monitors to monitor the participants, their work ethos and performance. Additionally, participants are obliged to attend weekly training and formation courses organised by JobsPlus as part of an upskilling exercise. 

The idea has never been to give these participants a government employment. In fact, they have never, at any point, been qualified as “workers”. They have always been participants in a government-driven initiative by which these job seekers are given the opportunity to gain work experience and improve their employability status. They got training and formation in work ethos and ethics, inter-personal relationships at work and amongst other things, punctuality. Yes, if there was one factually correct point in Mr Balzan’s article it was the use of a palm-reader machine that was retained notwithstanding the fact that not everyone might have been happy with it at the first instance.

Nevertheless, the palm-reader was put in place and kept in operation. At the same time, these job seekers have been giving a very valid contribution to the country. If, to date, Ċittadella visitors are still being impressed with the cleanliness, order and upkeep of the site, that is entirely to the credit of these participants. I openly invite any media journalist to come and visit Gozo’s Ċittadella, and compare and contrast its upkeep with any other equivalent historical site in Malta.

Therefore, the 100 figure of “new employees” stationed at the Ċittadella is factually wrong on two counts – firstly because 43 is not 100, and secondly because traineeship scheme participants have never been put on the state payroll.

The second reason why I feel compelled to reply is to express my disappointment at the way things are being dished out on newspaper pages. This is not the first time that the Ċittadella Traineeship Scheme has been cheaply reported. A few weeks ago, another news report tried to mock the scheme and take a dig at its integrity. Back then, the Gozo Ministry had replied to establish the facts. Yet again, this time round, a new series of uninformed facts about this scheme is splashed on news pages.

I would have at least expected the journalist to verify the “information” he may have obtained before composing such a news item. Would readers and honest citizens be asking too much from media organisations to verify their facts before publishing their stories? I am pretty sure that both JobsPlus and the Ministry for Gozo would have found no difficulty in providing true and official information that has already been made public.

Bottom line: there exists a number of persons, that despite of the employability-potential they may lack when compared to others, still merit the attention and efforts of a government that is true to its social conscience. This is what the Ministry for Gozo has been trying to put into practice, and this seems to be the main target of some media persons who are more vocal than others. Is this the service we want to render to those who are a tad more vulnerable?

Mgr Dr Joe Vella Gauci, Victoria

Clique hindered glorious PN

In hindsight everyone is right, but one must admit that anyone who kept repeating Simon Busuttil’s cry is no better than a fool.

A month ago, thousands called on me asking why I made clear-cut declarations, asking me to wait for when the time is right and react. The truth is there is no other time in a dark era than to end it. The PN is exactly in the midst of it. Like many I fought tooth and nail to get rid of all the hindering elements till 2013. The best I could get was overriding the malicious obstacles while putting all in a checkmate position and leaving everything to implode.

I asked Simon Busuttil to avoid making a scene of himself since his first day in the top seat. His eyes could tell he didn’t know otherwise, though I gave him time to prove me otherwise. As he walked the talk we could see his lack of vision, his terrible judgement, a softy trying to play the bully.

His insecurities rocked the party structures. Anyone with a hint of political acumen could read the writing on the wall.

He is politically incompetent and anything but a leader. He takes ages to decide on the obvious, and underestimates anyone with a hint of ‘red’ inclination. 

He kept unwanted fellows within the PN inner circles, such as Paul Borg Olivier, Karol Aquilina and Michael Fenech Adami. In top positions he added arrogance, mismanagement and non-starters with Ann Fenech, Brian St John and Rosette Thake. His ideas of fresh, innovative and crowd-pullers meant Salvu Mallia, Wayne Hewitt and Angelo Micallef amongst others.

His biggest threat wasn’t Joseph Muscat. His constant nightmares were Mario de Marco, Chris Said and Claudio Grech. All three possess great qualities which he lacks. We could see the constant mudslinging towards the three MPs coming from within the PN’s darkroom.

It is this attitude that put me and many others off the Nationalist Party. A clique that believes people are sheep while they are the anointed, a superiority complex and aloofness that made the rest of the country wonder. Their lack of credibility was certified by the largest political defeat in history.

While we look forward to succeed further together as a nation, we hope this clique will not continue hindering one of Malta’s most glorified political parties.

Jean Claude Micallef, Zejtun

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