Visa programmes to attract skilled workers?

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To compete in a global market Malta has to compete on the skilled workers as well, rewarding them to move here, taxation is just a way

The KPMG’s biennial financial services conference questions ‘what’s next?’ for Malta’s financial services industry

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The financial services industry is finding it hard to recruit skilled workers because Malta’s education is preparing “robots” and not independent thinkers, speakers taking part in a financial services conference said today.

In a day-conference at the Hilton organised by audit firm KPMG Malta, senior partner Tonio Zarb said Malta had to work harder to reach the level of sophistication of other countries in the financial services sector.

“One way of doing this is to import expertise. Innovation is closely tight to education and we need to encourage a change in our education system to produce independent thinkers, and not robots,” Zarb said.

Malta Financial Services Authority chairman Joe Bannister drew attention to the fact that, despite the complaints of the industry, very few came forward to help with training prospective workers.

He explained how last year, only 90 placements were granted down from a 120 the previous year. Bannister went on to state that students were attracted to the financial services industry because of the high salaries. He went on to warn of risks of creating a wage inflation.

One way of bridging the gap resulting from skills shortage was through the setting up of visas programmes, such as those employed by the United Kingdom, FinanceMalta chairman Kenneth Farrugia said.

The UK brought in a 20,700-a-year cap on skilled workers from outside the EU in 2011.

KPMG partner Juanita Bencini went on to suggest that the solution could be closer to home: increase female participation. 60% of University graduates are women but less than half of the full-time working population are women.

“We have to tackle the defeminisation of the workforce and we [financial services sector] should be at the centre of increasing female participation.

It’s also translated into how employers look at it,” Bencini said.

“There is a huge mismatch between what the industry wants and what comes out of university. We have not shown enough courage to ensure that this talent doesn’t drop off and we cannot afford to have them disappear of the face of the earth.”

Bencini added that what the government did with the universal provision of free childcare centres had helped a lot but the private sector needed to do something different too.

“Can we see our males working four days a week? We really need to start thinking to ensure female participation is there and this will make the industry grow,” she said.

Labour MP Charles Mangion also highlighted the country’s stability as a key attraction to investors. He noted, that the cross-party consensus that existed for years allowed the sector to flourish.

The financial services sector contributes some 12% to the country’s GDP.

http://www.maltatoday.com.mt/business/business_news/59845/financemalta_chair_suggests_visa_programmes_to_attract_skilled_workers#.Vl7N8nYvfIW

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