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Having high hopes for our youth

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I often write about my disappointment of a sector of the younger generation.  The crime rate is particularly high among the ages of 16-30 and most crimes have drugs as the underlying factor, problematic families or broken homes, and even the pampering by parents, as a result of which these children think they can get away with almost everything.

The recent football hooligans and the throwing of eggs on passing tourist buses at Paphos are some unfortunate examples.  The rate is not big, but it is there to be noted.  Education standards in high schools is not what it used to be, admitting that our education system with the aged and out of date teachers being one of the primary reasons. Teachers are appointed based on a waiting list, with no other major criteria, with most teachers reaching 45-50 years old by the time they are invited to teach.

This low standard had the Czech Republic and Germany to warn Cyprus that they will not recognize the school leaving certificates for admission to their universities, whereas even the University of Cyprus is admitting students with very low grades with approximately 20% of the newcomers scoring less than 50% of the minimum entry set by the same university. The number of qualified Cypriot people is very high, but one must also examine their standard, whereas the lack of knowledge of the professional English language is most shocking (even those who attend local English language universities).

Alas, there is a ray of hope for this country which has as a basis part of the younger generation.  If one examines who helped with the Syrian refugees, he will note that most volunteers are young people.

The more recent one and regarding real estate matters however is a group of young people mainly architects and engineers, town planners who got together in order to clean up an abandoned shopping mall project, out of use for years in Limassol, with all sorts of debris, from dead pigeons to drug syringes etc.

The clean up using their own labour fully equipped with mops, buckets, cleaning chemicals etc is progressing for a time, but without support.  The project known as Fysco Lotus Plaza originally designed as a hotel and later converted into a shopping mall accommodating over 150 units, failed in its operation and left for the last 25 years to its fate.

As an office we managed the development and sale of this project into a shopping mall and notwithstanding its initial success, the “curse” (the non-payment of rents and the common expenses) led the project to fail, in addition to the lack of attraction of outlets.

We now participated partly in the effort of these young people, of turning the mall into a youth business and innovation hub.  The idea is to have at the basement level one large supermarket and retail with low cost clothing outlets, the ground/upper level with small offices with common entrance and common reception and secretariat, and the first level with small retails/restaurants/pubs etc for use suitable for the younger generation.

This and other ideas by this young group is under discussion (be it with limited success due to lack of support) in order to make the Fysco Lotus Plaza “viable” by inviting investors and existing owners to turn the project into a young people business hub.

It takes a lot of courage to do the job (with no charge) with the intention not to have any profit for themselves, but to improve and operate one of the local landmarks in Limassol.  The group offers various initiatives such as inviting Limassol people to visit and note the change in the hope to attract interest.  To this end the Municipality of Limassol is all for it and this is most positive.

This exercise, however is not as straightforward as it may sound.  The units are owned by various people, part of the units are under tenancy, whereas evicting some remaining illegal occupants and others will require legal procedures (time and legal costs).

I believe that it is a model exercise requiring governmental and possibly E.U. assistance, both in terms of funding and legal guidance – a most difficult task

These young and romantic people must not be left on their own and governmental assistance is required, especially by the Ministry of Labour, the Ministry of Industry and the Ministry of Interior.  The use of an EU fund will be a major boost as well as the assistance (possibly) of community benefactors such as the Sir Stelios foundation.

A generation of young people to be proud of and an example for others to follow.

 

By Antonis Loizou F.R.I.C.S. – Antonis Loizou & Associates EPE – Real Estate Valuers & Estate Agents

www.aloizou.com.cy

[email protected]