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Politicians hijacking economic debate - economist

Politicians have hijacked the economic debate and very few understand what is really happening in the job market, according to economist Joe Vella Bonnici.

He said the country lacked proper economic analysis and lamented the fact that economists who spoke publicly were immediately labelled as Nationalist or Labour.

"We have one side boasting about 20,000 new jobs and the other side questioning this," he said, referring to a recent political controversy.

Mr Vella Bonnici was speaking at a seminar this morning titled For Jobs and Solidarity in Europe, No to Austerity organized by the GWU and the two trade union groupings CMTU and Forum.

Mr Vella Bonnici said mapping out a future direction for job creation had to start from a serious analysis of the current situation.

"We have to go back to basics and this means a proper evaluation of our education system. We cannot have a system where some 40 per cent of students leave school without skills," he said, adding it will increasingly be difficult to find jobs that pay well for these people.

He also urged for better planning, insisting that it made little sense to invest in a life science park without having workers with the right skills. "There are barely 10 workers, who could work in this sector," he said.

Mr Vella Bonnici cautioned on over dependence on the i-gaming sector, which could easily pack up its bags and leave if other jurisdictions offered better advantages.

He said the country had to know where it wanted to go and how it planned to arrive there but more importantly it had to understand the current set up.

There was a future for the manufacturing industry, he added, citing examples of European countries that had a strong manufacturing base. He said there was also scope for encouraging a strong home-grown industrial base that worked in clusters to reduce costs.

The conference is ongoing.

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