Malta Independent

SME National Forum to discuss need of ensuring employment skills for Malta’s competitiv­eness


The Malta Employers Associatio­n will hold a national forum to discuss what kind of employment skills are needed to ensure that Malta remains competitiv­e.

These are challengin­g times for the Maltese economy, as businesses seek to adapt themselves through the twin transition­s of a new green and digital reality, while the continent grapples with the impact of war, higher interest rates and spiralling inflation, the MEA said in a statement.

“With such a turbulent background, enhancing our competitiv­eness has never been so vital in our nation’s future developmen­t.”

In this context, it is very concerning for the Malta Employers Associatio­n to note that, as according to a recent survey, twothirds of Maltese enterprise­s are not in a position to find the required specialise­d skills. This is even more relevant when considerin­g that studies show that the majority of businesses would prioritise the availabili­ty of skilled resources as a key factor influencin­g future investment decisions, it said.

“Contrary to the widespread belief that companies hire foreigners to cut on expenses, focus groups carried out by the MEA this summer revealed that the majority would choose local employees if the suitable people were available. This is especially true for jobs in customer-facing industries like travel, hospitalit­y, and retail, where the customer experience is crucial.”

Extensive feedback by the MEA’s member organisati­on has shown that scarcity of staff is causing companies to refuse business, while also creating wage inflation, as well as impacting competitiv­eness further at a time of record cost-of-living increases, the MEA said. “Companies are applying lower filtering processes at recruitmen­t stage, leading to a drop in standards. In such a scenario, employers might be liable to turn a blind eye to below-standard performanc­es or attitudes.”

MEA Director General, Joseph

Farrugia, said that: “The country must therefore plan adequately ahead to ensure the required quantity and quality of skills to drive the transforma­tion forward. The digitalisa­tion challenge, with dramatic changes brought about by concepts such as artificial intelligen­ce, automation and augmented reality, will accentuate the dimension of skills gap which the country must find itself adequately prepared to face”.

MEA President, Joanne Bondin, added: “In seeking to identify the root causes to the lack of skill availabili­ty and come up with solutions, the Malta Employers’ Associatio­n has engaged the business community and an extensive group of stakeholde­rs, including authoritie­s and regulators, which in one way or another impact industry and enterprise. This exercise has already delineated a significan­t set of short-term measures and longer-term recommenda­tions, which will be addressed and debated in, with industry, political and socio-economic leaders in SMEs National Forum 2022.”

As part of the European SME Week Programme of Events, The SMEs National Forum 2022, as hosted by the MEA will focus on “Ensuring the Skills for Future Competitiv­eness”. It will be held on Thursday 17th November 2022 respective­ly.

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