The Young Chamber Network within The Malta Chamber of Commerce, Enterprise and Industry organised an event as part of Malta SME Week 2022 with the aim of sharing insights on 3 main areas: Human Resources, Education and best use of AI in business.
The President of The Malta Chamber Marisa Xuereb, in her opening statement, said that, “we need to dwell on the reskilling, upskilling and AI and how these feature within the working life of individuals and the economy alike.” She noted that we must ensure that we truly accept what AI stands for, “are we, as human beings, comfortable with accepting the notion that Artificial Intelligence can come up with a more efficient process?”
"Education also plays a vital role. We must ensure that apprenticeships, curriculums and consultations need to cater for future needs,” she continued. President Xuereb also emphasised that training programs need to be more dynamic to keep up with the times while also being short enough to efficiently map gaps within the market.
As part of Malta SME Week, Minister for the Economy, EU Funds and Lands said that, “we have recognised early on the important role that innovative technologies have within this uncertain new world. We greatly endeavour that the latter is embraced by local companies so these can remain ahead of the game while we continue to create the right infrastructure, enabling these same businesses to operate effectively.”
Professor Joshua Ellul, Director at the Centre for Distributed Ledger Technologies, delivered a presentation on the importance of upskilling and reskilling within the automation era. He said, “bridging the skills gap can only be done by introducing digital literacy at all levels.” He continued by stating that the next steps are to introduce policies and schemes, together with awareness efforts to promote and acknowledge the fact that digitalisation is present in all disciplines. “Due to blockchain, AI, software automation and robotics, disruption is expected. Certain jobs will become obsolete, but new ones will be created, so reskilling needs to be prioritised,” he said.
The first panel during the event discussed education and upskilling. Claudine Attard, Director - Management Consulting at PwC Malta noted that reskilling is all about having the right attitude and mindset. “Employers should have the tools to reskill their employees and should acknowledge the cold hard truth that the skills that their employees possess now may not be enough for the future,” she said. Alistair Buttigieg Vella, CEO at Universal Limited and Jetho Limited highlighted the gap that is currently present regarding soft skills within the education system. “Instilling a mindset of constant upskilling is vital if businesses wish to retain employees,” he noted.
Rachel Falzon, Founder & Owner at Rewired HR Consultants, reiterated the concept that it all boils down to company effort in ensuring that the right training is provided as it ensures that employees not only feel valued at the place of work, but are ready for the world of tomorrow. Ben Vincenti, Co-Founder & COO of Get Hitched, highlighted the challenges that companies are facing when finding people due to the skills mismatch. “There is no level playing field whatsoever. Startups find it incredibly difficult in finding the right employees, and when they do, these are poached by the bigger companies,” he noted.
The second panel aimed at highlighting ways in which AI and tech can be further utilised within business practices. Dr Marthese Portelli, The Malta Chamber CEO, said “We are in a very important juncture in our country. Investing in attitude and aptitude should be a national priority. Although Malta ranks 6th in the Digital Economy and Society Index (DESI) report, our ratings are still quite low, even though above EU average,” she said. Dr Portelli harped on the message that investing in digitalisation efforts, in the right way, is the way forward.
Jaques Barnard, Business Development Manager at Cleverbit Software, explained that 57% of EU companies are finding difficulty in acquiring digital skills, which in turn, will have a major impact on growth. “Being future ready is a must in today’s world! Although automation displaces some jobs, it creates others. Hence, it is vital for business leaders to drive and develop new skills for their workforce,” said Wayne Grixti, CEO at Tech.mt. David Sciberras, CEO & Co-Founder at Invent 3D said “Education helped in hammering in the management processes but passion and a positive mindset is what distinguishes the goods from the greats.”
Both panels were moderated by Rachel Attard, Head of Media and Communication Strategy at The Malta Chamber. The event was hosted by Melanie Cuzzoni, Networking Executive at The Malta Chamber.