Josef Said

Expedition42 CEO Josef Said on Wednesday highlighted how Malta’s economic growth has resulted in a sudden increase in job opportunities, prompting the native workforce to be completely “absorbed”.

Malta’s working population has surged in recent years, going up to 262,761 in 2022 from 2012’s 154,046. This has primarily come due to a rise in non-native workers, with Mr Said explaining that a decade ago, “just under one in 10 persons” in Malta’s workforce were foreigners, yet now it has risen to “one in three”.

Mr Said, as a human resources (HR) and recruitment specialist, is met with several concerns from clients on a regular basis about what happened to Malta’s local workers.

“Sure, some locals are attracted by overseas opportunities, but in essence, most remain gainfully employed on home ground. The explosive growth of our economy has spawned a wealth of job opportunities and concurrently, absorbed our native workforce,” he explained.

Since 2012, the country’s GDP has surged by 76 per cent, with an average annual growth of 5.8 per cent. GDP growth as at 2022 stood at 6.9. This is in sharp contrast to the fertility rate, which has dropped from 1.45 to 1.13 over the decade, the lowest out of all European countries.

Whenever he is approached by worried clients, Mr Said immediately questions the percentage of foreign employees in their business, as “if it’s less than 33 per cent, therein lies the answer”. “Several clients are succumbing in the talent war, their archaic mindset blindsiding them to the evolving workforce,” he said.

He added that while certain industries, such as healthcare, hospitality, retail and construction have adapted to fulfil shortages, “others are too attached to the idea that they would like only Maltese nationals” and some are even “plainly reluctant with limited actions or programmes aimed at quick assimilation and integration into their workforce”.

“For Maltese businesses to flourish, a fresh approach is non-negotiable. It’s no longer about grumbling over onboarding delays, lengthy work permit processes – though we’ve seen considerable improvements –, language barriers, or cultural disparities. The onus is on enterprises to adapt to the new status quo,” he continued.

“Success stories aren’t monocultural,” Mr Said noted, before explaining that they are the result of organisations that manage to be adept at integrating diverse backgrounds, skilled at training, and proficient in upskilling their teams. “An open mindset isn’t just nice to have, it’s a must have,” he added.

While he acknowledged that Malta’s economy is “destined for continued growth”, companies that fail to oversee such cultural changes will “invariably be eclipsed by their more adaptive and open-minded rivals”.

“Adapt or lose, the choice is yours,” he concluded.

Mr Said is vastly experienced in the HR and recruitment space, having led Expedition42 as CEO since 2022. He is also Director at Konnekt, a company he was CEO of for more than 14 years. He holds a Master of Arts in European Studies and a Bachelor of Commerce in Economics, both from University of Malta.

Featured Image:

Expedition42 CEO Josef Said / LinkedIn

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