Dr Matthew Brincat, Partner at Ganado Advocates, Malta Chamber HR committee member and Malta Chamber representative on the Employment Relations Board (ERB) said that active labour market policies were key to Malta’s sustainable economic growth.
Speaking at the Malta Chamber’s Parliament for Enterprises event, Dr Brincat said that Malta had experienced impressive economic growth, but warned that productivity rates were not growing at the same level.
“Local participation rate, especially that of female workers, could be further boosted. Malta still has the largest gender employment gap in the European Union. Moreover, due to labour shortages and skills gaps in various sectors, such as construction and IT, the Maltese economy is highly dependent on foreign workers.”
Dr Brincat said that the further extension of child-care facilities to shift workers, for example, would allow more women to enter the labour market, further boosting productivity at the national level. “Upgrading the education and training offer would be the best long-term solution to bridging the current skills gap.”
He added that since in the short-term, many sectors had no choice but to rely on foreign workers, it would be beneficial not only for employers and employees, but also for the economy as a whole, to introduce targeted measures aimed at attracting and retaining foreign workers.
“Such measures include the simplification and acceleration of work permit applications, and the provision of basic training to foreign employees, particularly immigrants with humanitarian or refugee status, who represent the bulk of construction workers.”
Dr Brincat concluded by saying that Malta’s competitiveness and potential for further growth depended on a long-term education and labour-force strategy, as well as the reduction of red tape. “The government must join forces with businesses to find an answer to the most pressing regulatory issues in this field. Only then can Malta truly reach its full economic potential.”