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EACEA National Policies Platform


3. Employment & Entrepreneurship

3.1 General context

Last update: 20 March 2024
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  1. Labour market situation in the country
  2. Definitions and concepts

Labour market situation in the country

Malta has been exhibiting a positive economic performance with low unemployment rates. As illustrated in the table below, the unemployment rate in Malta in 2018 stood at less than four percent, as opposed to the EU average of over seven percent. Moreover, its employment rate has continuously risen throughout the last decade. In 2013, the employment rate stood at 66.8%, almost half a percentage point below the EU figure (66.8%). The employment rate in Malta significantly increased from 75.5 percent in 2018 to 81.1 percent as of the end of 2022. The recently released employment quarterly data for Q3 confirms a positive trend, indicating a value of 83.8% for Malta. These increases are backed by positive economic growth, further enhancing the demand for expanding the local labour market.

Unemployment rate, age class 15-74

TIME EU27 Malta
2018 7.4 3.7
2019 6.8 3.6
2020 7.2 4.4
2021 7.1 3.4
2022 6.2 2.9

Source: Eurostat, last update January 2024

Table 1 Employment rate, age class 20-64

TIME EU27 Malta
2018 71.9 75.5
2019 72.7 76.8
2020 71.7 77.3
2021 73.0 79.1
2022 74.6 81.1

Source: Eurostat, last update December 2023

The Maltese government has several active labour market policies that aim to enhance work opportunities while upskilling and reskilling the current working-age population to equip said individuals with the necessary tools and transversal skills to enter the world of work. Such initiatives include schemes such as investing in skills, access to employment, and a free childcare service for parents/guardians in education or employment. The work exposure, traineeships, and youth guarantee schemes are no longer ongoing; however, Jobsplus intends to relaunch similar schemes under the new programming period 2021-2027. In addition to these schemes, Jobsplus is a licensed training services provider which offers various training programmes that range from language courses for foreigners, digital skills, accounting, payroll, care workers, childcare, trade and technical courses, courses related to entrepreneurial skills, green skills, marketing and sales and so on.  Jobsplus’ courses are free of charge and save for a few exceptions, courses are offered online.  Courses are open for persons within the working age bracket, irrespective of their employment status. Jobsplus offers accredited courses leading up to MQF/EQF level 4 and non-accredited courses.

Jobsplus, the Maltese Public Employment Service, administer all these schemes. Additionally, various changes have been made to the welfare system, promoting the Making Work Pay concept. The concept focuses on rewarding people who find employment by making participation in the labour market more attractive through initiatives such as the Tapering of Benefits and In-work Benefits. 

Current youth employment situation within the labour market

With a youth (15-29 years) unemployment rate of 5.9 percent in 2022, Malta is among the countries with the lowest unemployment rate within the EU. The EU27 unemployment rate in 2022 stood at 11.3 percent, representing a 5.4 percentage point difference from Malta. 

Unemployment rate, age class 15-29

TIME EU27 Malta
2018 13.0 5.5
2019 12.1 6.2
2020 13.6 7.4
2021 13.0 6.3
2022 11.3 5.9

Source: Eurostat, last update December 2023

Various initiatives have been introduced to encourage youth participation in education, training, and employment. Through the Youth Guarantee, Jobsplus advisors help young people further their education or provide work experience to facilitate their transition from education to employment. Youth advisors also provide tailored guidance services to support unemployed young people. 

Apart from implementing the Youth Guarantee, a research project, the Employability Index, was conducted to determine vertical and horizontal mismatches experienced by graduates when entering the labour market.

This information can be used by both prospective tertiary students and local authorities as a means of career guidance: while in the process of choosing the right career path, one can evaluate the risk of vertical and horizontal mismatches for each course. Through this means, students can analyse and determine which courses have the lowest chances of leading to job mismatch.

Definitions and concepts

Young people: Young people are categorised as aged between 15 and 29.

NEETs is the abbreviated form of the label given to young people who are neither in employment nor in education and training. In practice, it corresponds to the percentage of the population of a given age group and gender who are currently not employed, and not involved in any form of education or training.

Active groups and inactive groups: Active population, includes both employed (employees and self-employed) and unemployed people, but not the economically inactive, such as pre-school children, school age children, students and pensioners, provided that they are not working and not available or looking for work even if of working-age.

Registering/Unemployed groups: Registering groups includes people who are not working but actively seeking to find employment by registering with Malta’s Public Employment Services - Jobsplus.

An unemployed person, according to Eurostat is defined as someone who is currently aged between 15 to 74 years old; is without work during the reference week, who is available to start working within the next two weeks (or has already found a job to start within the next three months) or was actively seeking employment at some time in the last four weeks.

Vulnerable groups, according to the Inclusive Employment Services at Jobsplus, are persons who, at present, fall within the socially disadvantaged categories, including registered disabled persons, former substance abusers, former prison inmates or who are experiencing other socio-economic difficulties, and are therefore in need of customized care and support vis-à-vis training and guidance towards employment and job retention.

In addition to the above definitions, Malta’s Youth Guarantee Implementation Plan also defines what constitutes  good-quality offers. A good-quality offer of employment, continued education, an apprenticeship or a traineeship refers to the opportunity given to young people through the Youth Guarantee during the four months period of becoming unemployed or leaving formal education. For each type of offer, whether it is employment, training or education, criteria are established on whether the activity is applicable for the young person to participate in.

If a job opportunity is offered, it needs to last for at least six months. Moreover, if the employer is engaging the participant through the Youth Guarantee, the employer is legally bound to complete an engagement form and needs to submit it to the Public Employment Services.

If the young person is offered a traineeship, it needs to be for a limited period of work practice and offer learning and training components. Thus, the young person needs to be engaged on the basis that he or she is gaining practical and professional experience, which will in turn facilitate their transition into regular employment.

If an offer of education is provided, the course must be issued from a recognised training institution (public or private). Furthermore, the course should lead to an educational attainment of minimum Malta Qualifications Framework (MQF) Level 2. Short courses are not considered ‘quality’ offers. Programmes targeted at early school-leavers and low-skilled young people meeting quality requirements of curricula, assessment and validation of learning outcomes, and which lead to a recognised qualification, are also considered to be ‘quality’ offers.

For young people with a disability, an offer of supported or sheltered employment providing practical employment training in various sectors of the labour market, and including the assistance of job coaches is deemed to be a ‘good quality’ offer.

Self-initiated traineeships, education or employment opportunities are also considered as an offer subject to participants demonstrating that the criteria for assessing a ‘quality’ offer as established in other forms of ‘offers’ are met. This means that a traineeship offer needs to be accompanied by a written agreement between the employer, participant and the Public Employment Services; an education initiative needs to lead to a qualification from a recognised institution; and an employment offer needs to be regulated by an engagement form submitted to the Public Employment Services.

The NEET Activation Scheme is part of the youth guarantee. It starts with profiling, behavioural training, guidance on employment, development of communication skills, CV writing, and interview skills. Following the initial phase, young people are requested to either further their training through continued education or participate in a work exposure, which eventually leads to an offer of traineeship.