Finance Minister Clyde Caruana has ruled out moving towards a four-day week “at this stage”.  

Addressing the launch of a national employment strategy, Caruana said the government would be willing to discuss a four-day work week once worker productivity and skillsets had improved.

“We are not in that situation yet, but we can get there with improvement,” Caruana said. 

A number of trials of the model - which sees workers paid the same amount for fewer hours - have taken place across the world, including in Iceland, Scotland and Spain. 

The Malta Council for Economic and Social Development has recently proposed a similar trial for Malta. 

However Caruana said education needed to be improved first.

The minister said politicians liked to use buzzwords when it came to technological developments like 'blockchain', yet, in the span of 20 years there had been only marginal improvements in the number of students leaving compulsory education with six 'O'-levels.  

“This is the elephant in the room we need to speak about… This is the reality, whether we like it or not. These things cannot be ignored if we want the country to advance,” Caruana said.  

Skills shortage

Caruana acknowledged how many high-end jobs had been filled by foreigners, as the Maltese did not have the skills to take them on.  

The finance minister said it would be ironic for the country to keep creating new opportunities, yet workers’ children do not have the skills for them.  

He questioned how Malta could ever hope to compete in a world where Scandinavian youths spend an average of 21 years in education, while Malta has one of the highest rates of early school leavers in the EU.  

The finance minister said huge strides had been made over the years when it came to female participation in the workforce, and the number of persons with a disability in employment had doubled.  

He said the challenge now is that with improved social mobility, people aspire to work fewer hours, for more money. 

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