Study of the eSkills Gap in Malta

Study of the eSkills Gap in Malta

The eSkills Malta Foundation will be carrying out an eSkills Gap Analysis during the last quarter of this year, focusing more specifically on the Industry ICT skills Gap. A number of studies have been undertaken throughout the year by several organisations and all of these have contributed to the understanding that there is still quite a large skills gap between what the industry needs and what a considerable number of students and professionals have today.

Some of these studies have been made public and their findings can serve as an eye-opener of how harder we need to work to bridge the gap. Some of these skills are crucial for today’s digital economy. The NCFHE-Jobsplus-Malta Enterprise Skills Survey carried out in the first part of 2016 showed that according the the digital industry, most of their fully proficient employees still lack Planning & Organisation skills (67% of respondents), team working skills (55% of respondents), the ability to multi-task (45% of respondents) and English language proficiency (45% of respondents). The study cites other important skills shortages, including oral communications, numeracy and multi-tasking skills, amongst others. Another serious study carried out this year cited various skills gaps that are more specific. These include digital marketing, affliate marketing, networking and negotiating skills, data analysis amongst other specific skills.

The results of these surveys mean that we must return to the drawing board and see what we are doing wrong in the training and education sector. This does not mean however, that none of these skills are being covered within our education and training provision, but rather that there is not enough training and education to cover these gaps and subjects – and skills are not being tackled in the right manner within our training programmes. While I am a firm believer in indirect training, I also believe that when studies are indicating that there is a considerable deficiency in important skills then one must tackle the this more specifically. It must however be strongly mentioned that a good number of these skills must be directly or indirectly introduced at a very young age, possibly as early as primary school. One may even go one step further and instigate a cultural shift in our home education to create the right spirit for such skills like team working and oral communications.

While the skills studies carried out so far are very useful, they were not intended to delve deeply into the technical skills required. The eSkills Malta Foundation ICT skills study should be interesting to the industry and education because it will do just that. It will cover a good sample within a wide cross- section of companies including ICT companies, gaming companies, financial and insurance services , professional services, manufacturing and government. The study would dig deeper into the technical and soft skills required by these sectors. It will include development tools and methodologies, mobile technology, web technologies, cloud computing, platform technologies, DevOps, networking technologies, Big Data, enterprise applications, ebusiness and digital marketing, Call centre support, digital media, games development, and other complementary skills.

The study is being carried out in collaboration with FIT, an Irish organisation which has already carried out such a study in Ireland during 2012 and 2014. This collaboration will definately be of mutual benefit.
The Foundation will also be seeking to analyse how these requirements are being catered for by the training and education sector. This will identify more specifically the ICT skills gap and will then be in a position to propose a number of proposals and policy changes that would benefit the industry and the country. Through this study thee-Skills Malta Foundation hopes to instigate and offer for consideration, the expansion and change in the training and education provision as well as suggestions to the ICT Industry. Upon completion the ICT Skills Survey will be presented to all the relevant stakeholders and will also be presented and discussed in an public event so that stakeholders may contribute to this study.

Carm Cachia