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Unite urges action on ‘skills gap’

Photo by David Parody

Unite the Union Gibraltar's executive has expressed concern over the ‘skills gap’ that exists among the manual trades in Gibraltar.

The EU Referendum result was “a blow to the Gibraltarian community”, Unite said in a statement, pointing to the potential repercussions that could materialise should the Spanish government tighten controls at the border.

With this potentially negative scenario, Gibraltar could at any moment following the “tumultuous period of negotiation” that would start when Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty is invoked, “see itself short of trades people”, Unite stated.

“This is an outcome that Unite cannot allow to happen, and the leg work to resolving this matter has to start now,” the union said.

Unite said the Government’s “minimal training mechanism” was not adequate to furnish Gibraltar with quality trades people.

Paramount to this process, Unite underscored, is the need to give to people the skills, through accredited training, to become professionals in their own right.

It called for an alternative training system that is rigorous and able to develop an individual to whatever level that person desires to continue to.

“The existing Government system does have a place however, where those opting for generic training in order to access the workplace without the need to progress through rigorous training can use the existing mechanisms,” Unite said.

Unite further stated that the training system that it would like implemented is not a “soft option” for those that are less academically able but a system that meets the needs of a burgeoning city state such as Gibraltar in producing craftspeople with recognised qualifications of the highest standard.

“Unite draws parallels with the Gibraltar Academic Bursary system where no matter the course of study or to what extent professionals in that field are required locally, funds are available to develop these members of our community in their desired field of study; but in these circumstances in the manual trades.”

Unite further outlined an initiative that would see the Government liaising with Unite in identifying skills shortages in any and all vocations, be these the classical manual trades such as carpentry, plumbing, etc. to those related to healthcare such as nursing or physiotherapy as well as hospitality or administrative work as examples.

“Once these shortages were identified, the Government, with the assistance of Unite, would liaise with the Department of Education in order to advise school leavers of the opportunities in these fields and incentivise the study of these programs with additional funds and other mechanisms.”

Unite said it does not hide from the fact that its vision of training is distinct to that of Government and said it will seek to push its agenda at the highest level in order to safeguard the interests of Gibraltar and its youth.

The union called on the Chief Minister to sit down and talk with Unite’s Executive on the matter.


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