Malta currently enjoys significant attractiveness among companies and employees wishing to work in Malta. The years of strategic initiatives adopted by private and public entities are bearing fruit. Last year, Malta registered a 6.3% growth in GDP - a great result amid the turmoil and instability that characterised other European countries. Yet what challenges does this success bring with it, and what must we do to keep the uptrend going?
Past performance suggests that we will retain and improve our position on the global map as a relocation destination, but this does not mean that the road ahead will get easier.
Improving roads infrastructure, addressing gaps in the availability of skills, as well as being more efficient in dealing with bureaucratic procedures, are some of the challenges we face if we are to keep our competitiveness as a location of choice for candidates and companies.
Companies need also to look at redefining their cultures and develop different ways of interacting with candidates from different continents, more so, in a context where bargaining power has shifted more towards the employee.
Some direct measures of Malta’s success are the steady and consistent rise in companies setting up, the surge in employment opportunities and the influx of expatriates seeking to pursue their careers in Malta.
The IT & iGaming Industry in Malta
The IT and iGaming industries perfectly embody the fruit of this success and also the challenges that lie ahead. In the first 7 months of 2016, over 65% of screening interviews held by the IT and iGaming recruitment team at KONNEKT were with non-Maltese nationals, the majority of whom are not currently residing in Malta but show keen interest in relocation.
Demand for skills often outweighs supply. Although a true indicator of growth and prosperity, if not adequately addressed, this shortage could impede further economic expansion whilst giving way for competing economies to eat into our market share. In an interview with the Business Agenda (August 2016), Education Minister Evarist Bartolo concurred with this view, and maintained how diversity of skillsets is a feature of the world’s strongest economies and the need to work in this direction to build on our success.
Another key aspect to consider is the changing of cultures within workplaces and the need for companies to revisit their strategies in this light. Facing shortage of human resources, employers are now looking offshore for talent. In fact, this is often a faster route than securing locally based candidates and is invariably changing the way companies are structured.
In line with demands of new generations, companies are also called to redefine the concept of loyalty. Candidates tend to no longer be as motivated by job and financial stability but are more willing to risk in pursuit of environments that offer higher opportunities for self development and improved wellbeing. Although frequently identified as the prime motivator, higher earnings are more often a consequence of job market developments, rather than the factor motivating career movements. This suggests that companies need to recruit more on “employee potential”, while looking towards fostering a “while you are with us” mentality that requires constant updating if they are to remain attractive for current and prospective employees.
A longer term solution would have us look at the number of students completing ICT-related degrees. According to the latest Malta in Figures report issued by the NSO in 2014, graduates from ICT courses went down from 169 in 2010, to 80 in 2012, with the majority coming from software development streams. Needless to say, these numbers do not provide a positive outlook especially when viewed in comparison to other courses (ICT graduates’ population constitutes not more than 20% of graduates in Arts and Humanities, Business and Management, and Law). Ultimately, attracting students - both male and female - to this field will ensure that there is a steady pipeline of homegrown talent. This is essential in speeding up the fulfilment of the ever increasing number of job openings, with a direct effect on competitiveness.
Ultimately, we are all invested in ensuring Malta’s success in the long term. With the right sense of direction and the implementation of targeted strategies, we can affirm our position on the European map as a true centre of excellence.