The publication reports that the Maltese economy has been experiencing fast growth and sustained employment creation for several years, stating that employment rates continue to increase for both men and women, and further states that unemployment rates, including long-term unemployment and youth unemployment, are well below the EU average. The participation of young women in the labour market has significantly increased, facilitated by free childcare.
The unemployment rate dropped to 3.4% in the second quarter of 2019. The report also highlights the fact that in 2018, the employment rate in Malta reached 75.5% and that at 5.7%, its employment growth is the highest in the EU. The unemployment rate is at a record low (3.7%), including for young people aged 15-24 (9.1%). The share of young people (aged 15-24) not in employment, education or training is 7.3%, far below the EU average of 10.5%. Long-term unemployment (1.1%) is also at a record low.
The report also notes that Malta is one of the EU’s leaders in training ICT specialists (7.9% of all graduates), and they account for a relatively high share of the workforce (4.8% against 3.9% in the EU).
The employment rate of VET (Vocational Education and Training) graduates in Malta is well above the EU average (91% against 79.5% EU in 2018). The overall uptake of VET subjects in secondary schools increased from 23% in 2016 to 55% in 2019. Malta has taken steps to improve the labour-market relevance of initial VET. On average, 32% of upper-secondary initial VET students followed work-based programmes in 2017, well above the EU average of 27%. The number of apprenticeships organised by the Malta College of Arts, Science and Technology (MCAST) increased to 950 in the 2019-2020 academic year, 130 more than in the previous year. In 2019, the MCAST added six new degree apprenticeships at bachelor level 6, which allow students to achieve a recognised qualification while obtaining work experience. In addition, a project co-financed by the European Social Fund offers mentoring for MCAST lecturers and staff involved in apprenticeship programmes.
Further analysing the education sector, the Country Report 2020 reports that in 2017, Malta spent 4.9% of its GDP (vs 4.6% of GDP at EU level) and 13.9% of its total public expenditure (vs 10.2% at EU level) on education.
The report also notes that the number of new entrants in tertiary education is accelerating. From 2013 to 2017, the number of new entrants in tertiary education increased by 23.3%, reflecting demographic factors and measures to ease access. The proportion of people aged 30-34 with tertiary-level qualifications has also increased since 2010.
Malta has developed many initiatives for promoting the acquisition of digital skills. Young people (16-19 year-olds) reported having a higher level of digital skills than the EU average (74% against 57%) in 2017. The share of Maltese schools with a high provision of digital equipment is greater than the EU averages at primary (82% against 35% at EU level) and lower-secondary level (54% against 52%). Measures are underway to help teachers integrate digital technologies into their teaching to improve student outcomes.
The Ministry for Education and Employment welcomes these positive outcomes and also notes sectors where significant improvements were noted due to the implementation of various policy initiatives, namely the activity rate of women in the labour market and the share of low-skilled people and early school-leavers.