Minister for the Economy, Investment and Small Business Chris Cardona and Minister for Education and Employment Evarist Bartolo attended the launch of the results of the Employee Skills Survey held by the National Commission for Further and Higher Education (NCFHE), in collaboration with Malta Enterprise and Jobsplus. This research forms part of the Erasmus+ project “Promoting the Bologna Process in Malta 2014-2016”. The Employee Skills Survey was launched earlier this year with the goal of a research project aimed at identifying shortages in skills, whilst gaining insight on the supply and demand in different sectors of the labour market in Malta. The population for this study included all employers in the Jobsplus’ database, excluding self-employed (without employees). The sample size was weighted according to the company size and NACE sector. The data collection was carried out among a representative sample of employers during the first quarter of 2016. A panel discussion and workshops were held after the presentation of the results. Minister Cardona congratulated the innovative venture which provides useful information and expressed himself in favour of it being replicated in the years to come so as to allow comparative studies to further idenitfy local labour market needs and trends. Such a study gives insight into the micro-decisions that employers make about factors such as recruitment and use of skills in the workplace, whilst also underpinning the macro-level trends that drive Maltese economic growth and productivity. It also gives insight into how changes in the economy are impacting on different types of business and raises important questions for policy makers and business owners alike.

“At the heart of this study is a desire for the worlds of education and business to collide. At a micro-level, these factors may be damaging for business. At a macro-level, they could be damaging for the Maltese economy and our future success,” said Minister Cardona.
Education Minister Evarist Bartolo emphasised the need for education to be contaminated with reality. This can take various shapes, one of which is experience in the industry. He said that for education to become relevant and stimulating there needs to be a stronger link between what happens in class and what happens outside. Businesses no longer require just academic skills but are constantly emphasising the need for social and collaborative skills which are so crucial in the working environment.
Skills gaps can mean heavier workloads, higher operating costs and difficulties in introducing new techniques and work practices for businesses. A need for softer skills, such as time management and prioritising tasks, were observed in the study, with 56.2% of employers declaring that hard-to-fill vacancies were down to the lack of applicants with the required skills, with 43.7% saying that this was down to the lack of the required attitude and personality. Skills lacking in applicants for vacancies that are hard to fill were: written communication skills (32.9%); technical skills (32.1%); problem-solving skills (30.9%) and team-working skills (29.3%). Minister Cardona noted how a skill shortage reduces competitiveness and productivity, and can hinder Malta’s economic performance.

Minister Cardona also noted how we are currently achieving significant results, with a rate of economic growth which outstrips most of our European neighbuors, but in real terms for employers and employees alike in their business demands and quality of life. The latest Eurostat figures showed that in the three years under this administration, more than 20,000 jobs have been created, this whilst also registering the second lowest unemployment rate in the European Union. Of note is Malta’s current standing with the best youth unemployment record in Europe, aided by such measures as the Youth Guarantee which ensures that all school leavers are earning or learning. With the Government’s diversifying strategy for the economy and projects in the pipeline, collaboration is necessary so Malta keeps attaining such positive results for the economy.
“I want each individual to reach their full potential and I want Malta to punch above its weight in the world, with a reputation that others will admire. There is a need for synergy at all levels. This is good, valuable research and we should use this resource wisely,” concluded Minister Cardona. 

Source: medNews