Two-thirds of Malta’s companies say they are unable to find the “required specialised skills” in the local labour market, a study by EY has found.

Conducted between July and August, the study aims to shed light on Malta’s market skills set amid growing concerns workers do not have the necessary skills required by employers. It was carried out among 120 executives operating in foreign direct investment companies and representing a cross section of sectors.

The EY study showed that although there was a slight improvement over the previous year, difficulties to find skilled workers persist. In 2021, the figure was marginally higher at 69 per cent. 

“In 2022, 66 per cent reported not being able to find the required specialised skills in the local labour market. However, this is a slight improvement on the last year, which indicates that the challenge is being tackled on several fronts and, positively, not worsening further,” EY researchers said.

The rate had peaked in 2019 when it stood at 73 per cent after having been on an upward trend in the years prior to that.

EY noted that skills shortages are “a perennial problem for most European countries”. Locally, the trend had been reversed slightly in 2020, due to the pandemic. However, this reversal was shortlived and the rate spiked again the following year.

The study also showed that despite struggles to find skilled workers, this still remains a priority and companies’ need for specialised skills has continued to grow.

According to EY’s findings, 70 per cent of companies reported being in the market for workers with specialised skills. This figure was 10 percentage points higher than 2021.

To address the issue, the government last year unveiled a new employment policy in an attempt at reimagining Malta’s working future.

EY’s annual Attractiveness Survey will be launched at a national conference on Tuesday.

In October, the National Statistics Office launched the Malta Skills Survey which will shed light on the skills profile of the country’s workforce. The data is intended to provide a snapshot of any existing skills gaps in the national labour force.

The NSO also recently released its first-ever skills mismatch report that showed more than half of workers in Malta are in jobs that do not match their level of skills or education.

The studies in recent months confirm concerns repeatedly flagged by the employers’ lobby. According to the Malta Employers Association, Malta must do more to improve the skills and training of its existing workforce. The association has also discouraged reliance on foreign workers to fill gaps, however, it claimed that an acute lack of human resources is forcing employers to hire third-country nationals.

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