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TG urges more to ‘reverse talent drain’, drawing stinging response from No.6

Photo by Eyleen Gomez

Together Gibraltar on Monday said Gibraltar needs to do more to “reverse talent drain” and boost local job opportunities.

In a statement it accused the Gibraltar Government of “not doing enough” to create sustainable, high quality job growth or supporting homegrown business.

But in reply, No.6 Convent Place said it was “surprised” by Together Gibraltar lamenting a lack of local job opportunities, while “the reality of the local job market is that there are two jobs available for every local resident who is active at work”.

The exchange came after the Minister for Economic Development, Sir Joe Bossano, said last week that initial data collected by the Government showed fewer than 50% of Gibraltarian university graduates end up working in Gibraltar.

Together Gibraltar said it is “concerned but not surprised” by these preliminary figures, adding that the party is grateful Sir Joe is “speaking up about the need for greater economic resilience in Gibraltar”.

“Since its formation, Together Gibraltar has argued that reliance on a small number of sectors holds Gibraltar back, prevents talented graduates from working in Gibraltar, and puts Gibraltar’s economic future at risk,” TG said in a statement.

“The Government is not doing enough to create sustainable, high quality job growth nor to support homegrown business.”

“Despite the prevalence of technology jobs in Gibraltar, technology-led companies, such as online gaming companies, employ very few Gibraltarians, instead relying on international recruitment or cross-border workers.”

“This is a travesty when there are so many local graduates who could be filling these jobs.”

Gibraltar needs to do more to encourage firms to build up local talent, the party said.

It added that this will create opportunities for companies and employees alike.

“We see this network effect in the legal and company management sectors: more talent

development means more opportunities in Gibraltar, and more opportunities means more talent comes to the Rock,” the TG statement said.

“We need to extend this network effect to a wider range of sectors and ensure that Gibraltar becomes as known for its talented workforce as it is for its tax and regulatory environments.”

Young entrepreneurs are also increasingly finding that it’s actually easier to open a business abroad than in their home town, TG added.

“In 2019, Together Gibraltar put forward the idea of an Enterprise Investment Scheme which would support new businesses which build products and services and employ people in Gibraltar,” the party said.

“This scheme is needed now more than ever to ensure that we’re providing opportunities for young people while staying competitive as a tourism and business hub.”

“Per our meeting with the GFSB, there are few resources for those looking to start a business and a tremendous amount of red tape.”

Together Gibraltar also raised concerns about the public sector, adding that Gibraltarian graduates who do return to the Rock have “consistently been kept on supply lists or zero-hour contracts instead of being offered permanent positions with stability and career prospects”.

The party added: “This has a knock-on effect on our public services as it creates a lack of continuity and a loss of skills as public servants retire with no one in place to pass their knowledge on to.”

The party said there is a shortage of technical skills in the public sector in areas such as IT and heritage preservation, and said the Government needs to ensure that young Gibraltarians “know about these gaps”, and provide a meaningful career for those hoping to acquire these skills.

“Gibraltar’s current approach is the opposite of what we need and what we see happening across the UK and Europe, the TG spokesman said.

“Public sectors are making a targeted effort to bring young graduates into public service and instil them with the skills they need to maintain and modernise these services.”

“Young people are really keen to make a difference but a lack of development processes and perception of nepotism has created a sense of defeatism which pushes young Gibraltarians away.”

“Speaking to young graduates, Together Gibraltar understands that a total dearth of affordable rental properties also contributes to this problem as young Gibraltarians have to live with parents for many years and young families cannot move in together unless they rent across the border.”

“This is further exacerbated by a lack of childcare provisions which means young families will be better off outside of Gibraltar.”

“Gibraltar used to be known as a great place to raise a family but nowadays, with both parents expected to work, it’s very difficult unless parents have a strong local support network to look after children while they are at work.”

Together Gibraltar said it will “keep pushing” for a better deal for young Gibraltarians.

“The party will keep fighting for statutory parental leave for all parents, prioritise the availability of affordable rental properties and a diversified economy which creates high quality jobs for graduates and non-graduates alike,” the spokesman added.

The Government was swift to respond and said it was “surprised by Together Gibraltar’s latest bluster lamenting a lack of local job opportunities, whilst the reality of the local job market is that there are two jobs available for every local resident who is active at work”.

“The new interim leader seems to have retained his predecessor’s remarkable habit of failing to do their homework and not understanding the issue at hand,” No.6 Convent Place said.

“In terms of the public sector, it is strange that Together Gibraltar, who are allegedly in coalition negotiations with the GSD, would advocate for an expanded public sector whilst the GSD simultaneously argue that the public sector and the civil service are bloated.”

“It is even stranger to see a Party that hails itself as the progressive alternative hark back to the days where one parent, plainly women, stayed at home to look after children.”

“The Government, however, welcomes that whilst struggling to come up with any kind of tangible policy of their own, Together Gibraltar advocate an Enterprise Investment Scheme that is strikingly similar to the Business Nurturing Scheme introduced by this Government in 2015, and which the Chief Minister in his address to the GFSB and again in his Budget address confirmed will return this year after a hiatus forced by the Covid pandemic.”

“Unsure of where they stand and unable to come up with anything new, Together Gibraltar are clearly spouting arguments that they think might be popular, just to test the waters.”

“New interim leader, same inexperienced and misinformed TG.”

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