Unskilled and semi-skilled workers are accepting pay cuts to leave their private sector positions for government jobs that are considered easier and more secure, the head of the Malta Employers’ Association has said.

Joseph Farrugia was elaborating on the employers’ lobby claim that jobs are already being handed out by the government as part of a traditional pre-election strategy to secure votes.

“Most employers are offering good jobs with good salaries but, lately, some Maltese employees seem to prefer moving to a government job, even if it pays less,” he said.

He suggested this was because public sector jobs are considered to be both more secure than private sector jobs and involve less hard work.

Farrugia said this ‘talent drain’ is happening across the country but it is affecting mostly unskilled and semi-skilled jobs, particularly in hospitality and security.

Restaurants have previously spoken out about a lack of staffing, after foreign workers left the country due to COVID-19.

Most employers are offering good jobs with good salaries

“Our workforce is too valuable to be ‘wasted’,” Farrugia said.

“Like most European countries, we are in dire need of talent and manpower and it is critical that we manage our human resources wisely.”

The MEA argues that, in certain areas, the public sector is bloated, leaving a shortage of talent in the private sector.

“Situations of over-manning [in the public sector] are to be resolved by allowing a redistribution of resources to the private sector with the support of fiscal incentives to encourage people to shift to private employment where their skills may be utilised more productively and more efficiently,” it said in a position paper published earlier this month.

“This is partly why many employers are constantly on the lookout for foreign workers,” he said.

In its proposals for Budget 2022, published on Monday, the Malta Employers’ Association said that it was essential “to reverse the talent drain from the private sector prior to an election”.

Farrugia also asked why people are employed to read water and electricity meters “when we have invested so much money in installing automated smart meters in every home”.

During the three-month electoral campaign ahead of the 2017 election, public sector employment increased by nearly 500 jobs.

While no election has been called, one must take place within the next year.

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