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Talent Attraction in Malta

by Caroline Buhagiar | 16 Apr. 2017

Attracting Talent to our Island

Companies spend long nights trying to devise strategies to attract and retain talent in today’s world. Although this context has been with us since the late 90s in some of the developed economies, locally in Malta we have seen this trend catching up very quickly in the last decade.

An additional challenge we seem to be facing in our country, is that much of our young generation are less inclined to invest in their education for one reason or other. We have a staggering number of school leavers who have limited basic skills that can be applied to today’s workplace. At 20.4% in 2015, Malta’s rate of early school-leavers is well above the EU average of 11.2%. Malta, in line with the rest of Europe, defines an early school-leaver as an individual in the 18-24 age bracket who is neither in education nor in training or apprenticeship and, in the case of Malta, someone who also fails to obtain five SEC exams at grades 1-7. Even with the latter qualifications, one cannot expect much opportunities.

Other factors that drive shortage of talents are:

  1. Low birth rates and aging population: low birth rates in developed countries lead to talent shortages. In Europe, 2010 marked a turning point: it was the first year with fewer labour market entrants than workers retiring out of the market, and despite a growing global population, the availability of skilled talent is shrinking, and no longer just in advanced, aging countries. Even emerging markets, such as China and Russia, are feeling a demographic crunch. Hence, global employers face the challenge that, despite a growing global population, they will soon have to recruit from a shrinking workforce, leading to intensified competition for talent. As a result, attracting talent from one’s own country, or even other European countries, will increasingly become a zero-sum game, and talent will need to be attracted from other parts of the world. This ‘war for talent’ will become increasingly acute in sectors that require high skill levels and more education.

  2. Global Talent mobility has increased by 25% in relation to the previous decade, and is predicted to increase by 50% by 2020. The millennial generation is now entering the labour force in larger numbers and research shows that many of them wish to gain international work experience. In addition, the current economic crisis has increased intra-European talent mobility from southern Europe to northern Europe.

  3. Another challenge for larger companies and public organisations is that they now have to compete, not only against each other, but also against the start-up scene. There is also a trend towards increasing lifestyle migration, where more and more people make their migration and moving decisions based on lifestyle preferences, rather than on economic factors. In addition, an increasing number of people seek flexible working arrangements where most companies in Malta have not embraced the idea fully. The mindset of “presence” is still much part of our working culture.

  4. The increasing role of innovation, creativity and knowledge: in the constantly evolving knowledge-intensive economy, access to talent is a main driver of productivity, innovation and economic growth. Attracting highly skilled talent is a crucial element in the efforts to create favourable conditions for growth in specialised and knowledge-intensive companies, and countries. Foreign talent ensures the diffusion of knowledge and technology that may be new to our Island. Needless to say, if we want to attract foreign talent, we need to ensure that these individuals are integrated properly. Without a proper integration strategy, many know from experience that if a foreign talent leave, it will result into a very costly investment with big ramifications on the performance of the organization.

  5. Increasing specialisation: in the knowledge economy, both firms and countries increasingly specialise around core competencies, and they therefore demand highly specialised skills that are not always readily available in one’s own region, or even country, and must be attracted on an international market. The increasing specialisation requires new ways of thinking and acting. Combining existing knowledge in new ways to cultivate novel inputs, for which creative talent is needed, becomes a necessity.

  6. New technologies enables people to work globally without changing location. In that sense, work now is much more weakly connected to geographic location and has in some cases led to flexible work models. Freelancers, for example, who work where and when they desire are becoming more common, which helps widen the global talent pool. At the same time – paradoxically – the role of place is increasing.

Local companies need to start building their global talent database so that they don’t fall victims to talent shortage especially where critical roles are concerned. Getting to know who is out there must be on the agenda of every HR Professional or recruitment team. Social media and other professional platforms are a great way to start in making your company brand visible and showcase your talent attraction strategy. Similar to issues related to Human Capital, there is no one size fits all solution especially in such a volatile job market. Looking at our demographics and the skills shortage that our country is facing, it is imperative that we have a clear talent and retention strategy in place.

If you would like to know more on this topic, join us at our next HR Network Series Conference which is going to be held on the 5th May 2017 at Xara Lodge between 08:30 to 12:30.

Caroline Buhagiar is an avid and passionate HR professional who has worked in large multinational companies in Europe, US and Asia. She is fluent in manufacturing excellence, business excellence, building HR capability and driving
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