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Maltese report Maltese report
by Euro Reporter
2012-03-27 08:01:29
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Highest increase in e-skills graduates in the EU

On the occasion of the e-skills week, which will take place from 26-30 March 2012, Eurostat has published data on university graduates in computing and computer skills of individuals. The highest increases were registered in Malta (1.9% of all graduates in 2005 to 5.6% in 2009) and Hungary (2.0% to 3.4%), and the largest decreases in Portugal (5.1% to 1.7%) and the United Kingdom (5.9% to 4.0%). In 2009, the highest shares of computing graduates were found in Malta and Austria (both 5.6% of all graduates), Spain (5.1%), Cyprus (4.7%) and Estonia (4.4%).

The European e-Skills week 2012 is a European campaign focused on raising the interest of young people in ICT (Information and Communication Technologies) as well as showing people how to get jobs and e-skills for life in the digital age. In the EU27, 3.4% of graduates obtained a degree in computing in 2009. In the EU27, the share of computing graduates was 3.4% of all university graduates in 2009, compared with 4.0% in 2005. Among the Member States, the development of the share of computing graduates between 2005 and 2009 has been mixed.

Share of individuals having used a PC varies between 50% in Romania and 96% in Sweden In 2011, more than three quarters of those aged 16-74 in the EU27 had used a computer, while this share was 96% amongst those aged 16-24. The highest shares of those aged 16-74 having used a computer were observed in Sweden (96%), Denmark, Luxembourg and the Netherlands (all 94%), and the lowest in Romania (50%), Bulgaria (55%) and Greece (59%). In most Member States the share of young people who had used a computer was above 95%. Malta stood at 72%. A fifth of those aged 16-24 in the EU27 have written a computer programme


Malta joins call for EU to increase fish farm funding

As Malta published its draft aquaculture strategy this week, it also signed on to a call made by 16 EU member states, including Malta, for the European Union to increase funding for fish farms. The call cites “a need to continue to give priority and support for investments aiming to fulfil market demand through increased aquaculture production, pointing out that the elimination of the traditional investment supports would have a serious adverse effect primarily on small and medium-sized enterprises”. The group of states, at European Council level, called on the European Commission to reinstate the support for “sustainable productive investments in aquaculture such as fish farms and fish culture facilities (ponds, hatcheries, re-circulation systems) through the European Maritime and Fisheries Fund”.

Overall, it was estimated this week in the draft plan that Malta’s aquaculture industry could contribute €120 million to the Maltese economy by 2025 and be responsible for the employment of 2,000 people. The University of Stirling drew up the draft strategy after a call for tenders, and the EU provided 75 per cent of the necessary funds. A six-week period of public consultation is now in place. Fisheries Minister George Pullicino this week noted that the Maltese aquaculture industry traces its origin to the late 1980s, and at present comprises six companies operating nine sites. But it has been transformed over the past few years, and has become heavily geared at capturing live bluefin tuna and fattening them before harvest and sale, mainly to the Japanese market. In fact, five of the six companies are involved in tuna fattening, four of them exclusively.

The species is considered to be endangered due to overfishing, and decreasing quotas have hit the industry in the past few years. While 7,000 tonnes of tuna were harvested in 2007 – making Malta the largest producer in the Mediterranean – the amount has decreased considerably since then. Figures for 2011 are not yet available, but the strategy report suggests that the harvest was of less than 1,000 tonnes. So far, hatching and raising tuna throughout their lifecycle – what is known as closed cycle aquaculture – is not yet viable, although research efforts are underway in Malta and overseas. If this research obtains the desired results, the need to capture fish for fattening would be eliminated, thus helping ensure the species’ viability.


Racism in Malta becoming institutionalised

From the proceedings at the Courts of Justice to the work of the police and the refusal to allow Africans into certain establishments, racism in Malta is becoming institutionalised the Migrants’ Network for Equality and Moviment Graffitti stressed yesterday at a press conference convened in front of the Law Courts in Valletta. The two groups called for the problem to be recognised, and for migrants to be given the same protection and rights as others. The speakers were backed by a sizeable crowd of migrants and Maltese, who held up pictures of refugee Suleiman Ismail Abubaker, the man who was beaten in Paceville and subsequently died in 2009, and of Osama Saleh, who met a similar fate at the same place last week.

“You don’t know how sad racism is until you experience it,” said Ali Konate, before a minute of silence was observed for Osama, whose death left the community of migrants and people working closely with them still visibly shocked. “Racism can destroy our lives,” he added.  The speakers emphasised that not everyone is racist. Yet, even while the activity was taking place, some Maltese people who happened to be in Valletta were heard passing racist comments, saying that the migrants come to Malta to protest, rather than doing so in their countries. While speaking in an undertone from the back of the crowd, one man described the migrants as “arrogant”.

Andre Callus from Moviment Graffitti said the press conference, which was originally planned for last Saturday, had been called off after the bouncer who allegedly assaulted Suleiman was acquitted following a trial by jury. The group alleged that at the trial, the prosecution and police barely made a case for murder. The group considers the way the case was handled by the police and the prosecution as being severely flawed, reflecting a wider system in which Africans are treated differently by some institutions.  Osama Saleh, who had planned to attend, died in the meantime. The group therefore appealed to the authorities to carry out their investigations into this case more seriously and with honesty.

This particular turn of events has increased fears among migrants, who feel the aggression towards them is widely accepted. Action taken against people who attack migrants has been infrequent and the manner in which the Suleiman case was treated leads to a number of questions.  When Suleiman was assaulted and hospitalised in 2009, the police did not say anything until a local newspaper reported the incident a week after it happened.  The two French students who witnessed the case – and had described how he was first refused entry to a club, then pushed and punched by the bouncer, and eventually kicked by another person while lying on the ground – had not been requested to give testimony in court. Instead, a statement they had given was read out. Consequently, nearly all the witnesses who testified during the trial had some kind of tie with the accused.

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