The economy will need almost 12,500 new workers next year but 2,000 vacancies will not be filled, meaning the economy could be losing €60 million, head of JobsPlus Clyde Caruana has warned.

Mr Caruana was speaking during one of the breakout sessions at the annual EY conference, during which the Big Four firm Ernst & Young presented the results of its survey on Malta’s attractiveness to foreign investors.

The results showed a growing problem with regard to the shortage of suitable personnel. Over a third of the respondents said they were not able to recruit staff and almost two-thirds pointed out that their expansion plans depended on being able to fill the gaps.

Almost three-quarters of them said Malta should concentrate on developing education and skills if it wanted to remain attractive in the future.

The extent of the problem was driven home by Mr Caruana, who said 11,000 new jobs were created last year, of which only 2,500 were filled by Maltese.

With 14 consecutive quarters of growth hovering around the seven per cent level, he said the forecast was that the number of new jobs would rise by 12 per cent next year.

“The problem is that we are not attracting as many foreigners as before, which means there could be as many as 2,000 unfilled vacancies, which would cost the economy €60 million in lost growth,” he said.

JobsPlus research, he continued, showed that 70 per cent of foreigners stayed in Malta longer than a year, but then the haemorrhage speeded up, with only 45 per cent remaining for two years and 29 per cent for three.

Mr Caruana warned that the private sector did not have the resources to recruit foreigners because of the cost involved and JobsPlus would have to step in and take action.

The situation with regard to local employees is being affected by demographics: in 2010, there were 280,000 people who were aged between 16 and 64 and, in theory, available for work. However, by 2035, the number will shrink by 20,000.

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