The Education Consultative Council (ECC) of the Malta Financial Services Authority (MFSA) conducted a survey highlighting the significant skills gap present within the financial services sector in Malta.
Skill shortage in the financial industry?
Along recent years, this particular service industry has significantly grown in Malta and continues to rapidly expand. This rapid growth generates the issue of skill shortage within the industry, however this problem is not exclusive to the financial services industry and Malta is currently addressing this challenge across various sectors, particularly through its latest tax incentive for third country nationals looking to work in Malta and by strengthening training and development for the labour market.
According to the survey, an overwhelming 78.6% of financial services companies in Malta that had at least one vacancy had positions that were hard to fill either due to the candidates not having the work experience or skills required, or because the candidates did not demonstrate the right approach towards the work in terms of personality traits and motivation.
Within the Maltese financial services sector, the most vacancies were recorded within the following organisations:
Banks – 39.3%
Investment services companies – 24.7%
Insurance companies – 16.9%
Trusts and trusts management – 7.9%
Insurance intermediaries – 6.7%
Financial institutions – 4.5%
Nearly a quarter of the companies taking part in the survey stated that they are experiencing the issue of skill gaps within their present workforce, particularly insurance companies. A third of these companies tackled this problem by recruiting foreign talent whilst 42.4% expanded their recruitment efforts locally by using more recruitment channels. Most of these companies also resorted to funded or off-the-job training during the past 12 months.
The skills that are highly demanded but short in supply within the financial services sector are compliance skills, fund administration skills and other general regulatory requirements. In relation to this scenario, the ECC’s recommendation was to keep opting for further training, focusing in particular on the areas of compliance, fund and client administration as well as accountancy.
The council also pointed out work placements, apprenticeships and internships, even abroad, as an ideal way of acquiring exposure to work while still studying and gaining expertise within specific fields, especially when it comes to highly specialised types of work. This would also lead making better career choices later on life after finishing formal education.
In such a technical industry, possessing practical know-how and experience is also vital. This type of knowledge can be imparted by industry professionals who hold both operational and practical experience in the field. If these could act as mentors to those who are only just beginning their career, this would help them better their approach and expand their skill set.
The survey also revealed that the positions that companies were finding hardest to fill were those of financial controller (7 positions), business development manager (5 positions), risk and/or compliance officer (5 positions) and head of risk and/or compliance (4 positions). Other occupations that were mentioned with 3 vacant positions each were portfolio manager, insurance accountant, financial analyst, internal auditor and senior developers and software managers.
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