The digital skill gap issue can be simmered down to a single sentence: technology is advancing at unprecedented rates, but technological education isn’t.
We have been seeing exponential advances in some relatively new technological areas – such as artificial intelligence and robotics – leading to the creation of new jobs or to the adjustments of jobs that already existed.
Whilst these technological advances are innately good, they need to be manned by a digitally-skilled workforce. To make matters worse, these technologies are being constantly updated, so what you might learn one year might become completely outdated the year after.
In plain text, Malta and Europe’s workforce is lagging behind these advances.
As a result of this, the European Commission believes that there could be a whopping 756,000 vacant European ICT jobs by the end of this year.
So with all of this in mind, what is the ICT and digital skill gap situation like in Malta?
Glad you asked! Malta’s most recent statistics for graduates in the ICT sector are actually pretty encouraging – but they’re plagued by one worrying issue; they’re severely outdated.
The latest statistics provided by the National Statistics Office (NSO) were released three years ago, in 2017, but the data they use comes from 2014 and 2015, so we can’t really say they’re ‘accurate’.
The statistics provided by Eurostat are no different. Once again, the data used by this office dates back to 2015. Having said that, updating our data sets would greatly aid Europe’s efforts to forecast and combat the digital skills gap.
With all this in mind, here’s what these statistics say about Malta and the European Union.
For starters, ICT graduates from the EU are overwhelmingly male. Eurostat numbers show that as of 2015, only 20% of all ICT graduates in the EU were female.
The situation isn’t any better in Malta. NSO’s statistics show an even bigger discrepancy between Maltese male and female ICT graduates. As of 2015, 81.8% of ICT graduates were male, meaning that only a meager 18.2% were female.
But gender issues aside, how do Malta’s numbers compare to other countries’?
The short answer is great. In 2015, Malta boasted the highest portion of graduates from the ICT field. These accounted for 8.5% of all of Malta’s graduates for that same year.
Considering that the EU average for the percentage of ICT graduates is only 3.5%, it’s safe to say that Malta’s on the right track.
To put this into perspective, powerhouses like the UK and Belgium saw just 3.6% and 1.1% of their graduates graduate in ICT. Hats off, Malta.
On a local scale, ICT as a tertiary area of study is becoming more and more popular, once again being the chosen area of study for 8.5% of 2015’s graduates. Having said that, it’s still trumped by the business, administration, and law (26.7%), and health and welfare (13.0%) fields.
Now that we’ve got a clear idea of what the digital skills gap is like in Malta, here’s what can be done to fix it.
The solution is pretty simple – instant investment. Companies must be ready to invest more in allowing their workforces to educate themselves in digital fields.
To put this into perspective, a report published by the World Economic Forum estimated that by 2022, a minimum of 54% of all employees will require “significant reselling and upskilling.”
Even more concerning is the fact that 37% of Europe’s labour force participants do not even have basic digital skills. This means that if the technology used at the workplace keeps getting more and more advanced, an even smaller portion of the European workforce will be adequately educated to operate it.
Providing employees with hands-on education isn’t always possible – what with the limited resources that one might have. Having said that, online learning platforms are constantly mushrooming, thus making the education and training process way more affordable and easy to reach.
How is your place of work dealing with the digital skill gap?