GSD MP Elliott Phillips has highlighted the modern apprenticeship schemes in Germany and the United Kingdom as “excellent workable examples”, urging the Government to follow suit.
In his maiden budget address Mr Phillips said that building a successful economy depends on the creation of better opportunities for young people.
“It cannot happen overnight and it certainly cannot happen by operating a “plugging the skills gap policy” that the Government are determined in pursing,” he told the House.
Mr Phillips said there needs to be more focus on supporting and encouraging start-ups in IT, software development, coding as well as industries allied to and supportive of Gibraltar’s gaming industry.
“After all, our principal asset is our people and you cannot wrong when you invest in your people.”
Gibraltar needs to do much more to secure the long term future of the unemployed and of young people, Mr Phillips said adding that the lack of opportunities for young people often forces them into “random and unsuitable” work.
“Not everyone is an accountant, banker, a lawyer or financial advisor, not everyone is destined for academia but everyone irrespective of ability deserves the dignity of work and opportunity to provide for themselves.”
He highlighted the modern apprenticeship schemes in Germany and the United Kingdom as “excellent workable examples” and said Gibraltar can learn from their experiences.
“Many people we speak to talk about the old apprenticeships with pride but they feel that we are losing the old skills.”
“We can learn from the experiences of those who underwent the old apprenticeships and apply the same rationale to the modern apprenticeships,” he added.
Mr Phillips said the Minister for Employment, Neil Costa, is “thinking along the same lines as we are” on modern apprenticeships and extended to him ‘the hand of cooperation’ in an attempt to work together to build such a programme.
Turning to justice, Mr Phillips highlighted the changes in the physical infrastructure of Gibraltar’s justice system over the past eight years as well as the legislative changes.
“We must obviously not rest on our laurels more can and must be done in law reform and in particular the individual’s interaction with the justice system must be improved,” he said highlighting the need to improve the service for the end-user.
The Office of Criminal Prosecutions and Litigation needs in my view a strong dynamic head to actively progress the case load of the department and motivate and manage a team of committed crown counsel, Mr Phillips said.
In relation to legal assistance, Mr Phillips said they need to move forward in reforming the system as there are many in the community that are unable to access justice and it is right that those who are most in need, should also be able to access the system.
“I know that members of the bar in this place and outside it have acted in a pro bono capacity and that should be applauded but we must do more than simply encourage the profession to take a positive step towards giving back something to Gibraltar.”
“We must all look at ways in which we lessen the load of the funding system in order to best direct access to justice to those most in need. This is how we as can improve the individual’s interaction and experience with the justice system.”
Turning to Prison Reform, Mr Phillips said he is a “big believer” in education in prisons and called for greater focus on this so that those who do want to change their lives can do so.
“I see a number of people trapped in the cycle of criminality and it seems to me that education is the key to unlocking this issue,” he said.
“I believe that we need to caste the net wider and bring education into the Prison and look at ways in which the Education Department can actively engage with the Prison Service so that we can tailor make opportunities for those who have expressed a desire to learn.”
Mr Phillips also called for ‘serious thought’ to be given to the use of Arrest Referral Workers at the point that the individual comes into contact with the criminal justice system namely the Police Station and the Courts.
He said the Scottish Pilot Study into this area would be of enormous benefit and invited the Minister for Justice to review it to see what lessons Gibraltar can draw from the conclusions to the study.