George Mifsud gets a fresh start after training and employment scheme co-funded by the European Social Fund.
Born in 1949, George Mifsud has seen some changes in his time. As a young man growing up in Malta, he learned welding, carpentry and other skills that gave him a good start in his professional life. Later, he apprenticed in taxidermy, a craft he practised actively for 20 years.
A lifelong hunter and musician, George's varied interests have kept him on the move, criss-crossing his archipelago home. Never straying much farther afield, he has only ever been to Italy and distant Switzerland outside of his native Malta.
"This is a small country but there is plenty to do. We Maltese don't like to go too far. There is a lot of history here. We like to take care of our islands and keep them beautiful."
And that's exactly what George does in his new position as landscape worker. "I've done a lot of different jobs," he explains. "Before this I ran a snack bar for the tourists. I did that for 11 years. Then, when we shut it down, I don't know, I was kind of played out. I needed to find something to do. I was unemployed."
George saw a report on television about new EU funding for people out of work, so he made a few phone calls and signed himself up for the 'Training and Employment Exposure Scheme' (TEES). Co-funded by the European Union through the European Social fund, TEES helps people over 40 who want to get back into the workforce.
"I had done welding and electrical work in my younger days," he says, "something I'd always enjoyed, but my ability had gone pretty rusty. This TEES got me into some free refresher courses. I did plumbing, carpentry, welding and electricity. It was a lot of fun and I met a lot of good folks. We did a full six months of training."
After polishing up his old skills, George was put in contact with a landscaping consortium doing jobs across Malta and he is now back in full-time employment. He works with a team of men who rove the Maltese landscape beautifying and repairing transport infrastructure such as highway medians, installing lighting and drainage systems, and generally keeping things tidy.
"I work outside and I get a lot of satisfaction in my job. We move from one end of the country to the other," he boasts, keeping in mind that the entire EU Member State encompasses a modest 316 square kilometres of surface area.
In the evenings, George plays guitar in a local country rock band, another passion he's pursued since his early youth. Recognised by people in the street and in fancy hotel lobbies, George is a bit of a local institution, and with a little help from his friends he's shown how a person in his later years can still make a difference.
"This programme gave me a chance to do something new," he says. "I feel like I'm starting over, I'm back in the game."