Over the past 20 years the landscape of the Maltese labour market has changed significantly. Employers remain very demanding about their needs, particularly as their businesses are exposed to increased competition. As they change into more knowledge driven outfits, however, the small scale of the market and the relatively low percentage of those in the working population with tertiary qualifications makes finding the right talent a challenge.

See also: Job opportunities in Malta

Candidates today are very selective about who they work for, where they work and particularly under what conditions they work. The choices open to them also make them far more fickle than their forefathers ever were. Jobs are no longer for life or even half a lifetime. Whereas 20 years ago people might have been expected to remain with the same employer for six to eight years, now on average they move on after three to four years.

The emergence of social networks and technology has changed the process of recruitment substantially, but more importantly, it has increased the speed of it exponentially. 20 years ago the recruitment process would have taken at least two months from start to finish. Today when an employer receives a CV they are interested in, within minutes they can call the candidate on their mobile to request an interview, potentially making a job offer within the week. You might think of this as obvious, however in 1994 only two out of every 100 people had a mobile phone and interviews were set via paper mail.

Technology has not only accelerated the pace of recruitment in Malta, it has also made it more transparent. Companies can seek information on candidates which was not volunteered during the interview, while candidates can see what the employees of their prospective employer have to say.

Previously, if a jobseeker missed the Sunday Times, they were likely to have missed an opportunity.

Today, candidates have round the clock access to job boards and recruitment agencies, while employers have access to updated databases such as LinkedIn.

In a competitive global marketplace education has become ever more critical. Education is now a requirement, not a luxury if one is to succeed in the workplace. As a result, university graduates have trebled over the past decade however figures are still a third of what Cyprus churns out from its higher education institutions. Although a lot has been done by MCAST and private education establishments, Malta still needs to produce more and better quality graduates.

There are now more women graduating from university than men. In the 1980s only 33 percent of graduates were women, in 2013 this figure was 59%. Whether through need or desire, or both, it has now become acceptable for women to pursue their own careers and with that, financial independence.

The introduction of Malta Qualifications Recognition Information Centre (now National Commission for Further and Higher Education (www.ncfhe.org.mt) has also enabled more mobility within an EU perspective making educational achievements recognised EU wide.

Another key factor in the changing shape of recruitment in Malta has been the European Union. When Malta joined the EU, it removed barriers and gave people the opportunity to study and work abroad. This created an exodus of local professionals, particularly medical staff, engineers, accountants and lawyers. The EU has also brought an influx of foreigners. These people have not taken over local jobs, but in many instances have taken on those jobs locals no longer want or where local supply is very limited. The number of recruitment agencies in the market has grown from only three in the 1980s to more than 30 active agencies today. Notwithstanding this growth, more than 90 per cent of job vacancies are still filled through word-of-mouth. Networking and contacts have always been key and will remain so. Given the particular expertise recruitment agencies have, companies now have the ability to identify the right candidates more quickly and efficiently than they could before.

Social attitudes and values have changed significantly. Today work-life balance, flexibility and working conditions have become more important. Internationally documented generational differences are very present in the Maltese workplace. These differences stem from the very different socio-economic factors that each generation experienced. Generations coming from the poverty stricken post-war era have a very different work ethic centred on hard work and loyalty, which are very different values from the work life balance and freedom oriented generation of today.

Finally, the evolutionary road has also led us to increased diversity in the workplace. We not only have more women pursuing their own careers but also have more culturally diverse workplaces. Employers are today more open than ever before to engage non Maltese Nationals. Apart from matching demand, it is well documented that a more diverse workplace increases productivity and innovation.

The labour force in Malta has become more sophisticated, more technologically savvy, better educated, more competitive, but less willing to sacrifice family and friends at the expense of work, and finally, more diverse. As a result, recruitment has evolved to become by far a more complex and specialised process than what we have been used to in previous years.

References Gapminder.org [Timesofmalta.com] (https://goo.gl/4XBGv1) [University of Malta] (https://goo.gl/RLIOCF) [University of Malta] (https://goo.gl/abvnGW) University of Minnesota] (https://goo.gl/pTlnRr)