And still we’re receiving a stream of enquiries from would-be expats looking for jobs in Malta. The islands’ capacity for population growth seems to know no limits. Despite its micro size and the prospect of its limitations (ie. in jobs, of space…), Malta seems a glistening jewel, an oasis away from the rat-race of corporate lives elsewhere, a place worth sussing out to relocate to.
A main concern for those not overly cash rich or thinking of just retiring here is the availability of jobs. It’s a concern too for locals who wish to specialise in certain fields. There’s a lot of info on the web on Malta’s attractions in terms of healthcare, overall quality of life and so on (we’ve covered that too). But on jobs? There’s far less straight talking and far fewer useful pointers.
We’ve rounded up some of the most popular questions we receive relating to expat jobs in Malta and asked Emma Martin, an HR executive at leading recruiter Muovo.eu, which specialises in the ICT, i-gaming, finance and pharma industries, to give us some insights into the realities here for job seekers from overseas. It’s a plain-speaking round up of what to expect.
Q. Is the Maltese language a pre-req for a job in Malta?
It all depends on the kind of job you are looking for. For example, some jobs would definitely require you to have a good understanding of the Maltese ways, laws and language – this would include jobs in the field of law and the public sector and often for sales and marketing roles if the business is aimed at the Maltese market.
Q. How would I be assessed by an employer vis-à-vis a local candidate?
It all depends on the situation that an employer might be faced with when assessing CVs. For example, in the case of two individuals with the same experience, one foreign and one Maltese, some companies – specifically small- to medium-sized Maltese or family businesses, would usually consider the Maltese first over the foreigner. I believe that their main concerns would be the salary expectations of foreigners when compared to those of the Maltese. They may also feel there’s a higher probability of an overseas candidate leaving the island and they may consider cultural differences a stumbling block.
Having said this, the environment offered by a small- to medium-sized Maltese or family business is not usually sought after by foreigners anyway. This is because of the likelihood of promotion and also because a multicultural mentality is usually lacking in such environments when compared to other types of businesses.
There’s also an interesting category of employer for foreign applicants – the Maltese-based firm with overseas interests. I know of several such companies, with large staff complements, with operations in the wider Mediterranean-North African region. They often employ foreign professionals with specialisations, particularly in health & safety, ICT, hospitality and even in sales and marketing.
Q. What about prospects with foreign companies based in Malta?
On the other hand, foreign companies based in Malta (and there are plenty to choose from) would have no problem employing foreigners. Because of the advantages of investing in Malta, such as tax, weather , cheaper wages and English being a joint official language, many foreign businesses are deeming Malta ideal for their expansion or as a cost-effective base to relocate to – for near-shoring in other words.
For this reason, over the last few years there has been a significant increase in new business ventures covering all industries; from the ICT industry to the finance, i-gaming and even pharmaceutical industries. In these fields, foreigner applicants are in equal demand if they have the right experience, an excellent command of English and have no issues regarding work permits or relocation. Job seekers with European Union passports have no need for visas. The situation is different for so-called Third Country nationals (for more on this, see our Visa article which documents a US couple’s experiences. It also has useful links).
Q. What is the job market like? How quickly could I find work on arrival here?
Many would-be expats are concerned, naturally, about arriving in Malta and not finding a job within a reasonable time frame and then burning through their savings. I think the biggest challenge for many newly-arriving expats would not be competing with Maltese candidates but rather the availability of jobs that match their skills and experience and the type of job environment that they’d prefer. Because we are such a small island state, many might find only a handful, if that, of totally relevant jobs on the market at any one time. This would rarely be the case in larger markets where there’d be more choice and more nuances of job specialisation and level. Overall, I would say be prepared to spend 2-3 months job seeking and factor in enough funds to keep you going.
Q. What about people who have specialised experience? What is the job market like?
First off, I would like to point out that job titles here might not necessarily mean the precise set of duties and roles someone is used to performing in a job of similar title overseas. This is mainly because of the sheer size and variety of projects or audiences that businesses abroad will be targeting when compared to Maltese businesses.
Because of the size of the market or audience of Maltese companies you will find many people covering off a variety of duties; they would have an ‘all rounded job’ rather than a specific role. One example I came across recently was a job spec requesting a designer who would also need front-end development skills and therefore be able to cover the role of both the developer and designer. Overseas, or in Maltese-based companies who are targeting a wider overseas market this situation usually changes and more specialised roles are necessary.
Once again we can see the divide between Maltese-based companies who are targeting the Maltese market and those who are targeting foreign ones.
When it comes to job specialisation, this is where foreigners might be at an advantage over Maltese. If a specialised role arises within a company the only way to fill this role would be to search outside Malta to employ someone with a specific and rare skill set which would be scarce or non-existent in Malta. For example, when the gaming industry first started booming in Malta many foreigners were needed to fill roles such as gaming developers, testers, business intelligence developers, casino and poker managers etc. Courses for the i-gaming industry are only just starting to be offered here. In addition, there are certain positions that would definitely require foreigners such as customer care roles for specific markets and even country managers.
Having said this, very specialised vacancies will not be so common. For this reason, foreigners might find it even more complex to find the right opportunity if they have fixed ideas or wish to remain in their precise field. These job seekers would definitely feel over qualified, specifically in industries that are either new or absent in Malta.
Q. So, what’s the best way to get a feel for the job market in Malta before I relocate?
I would suggest that before someone decides to move permanently that they come here on a long holiday to look around for interesting opportunities and get a better understanding of life in Malta and possible even attend some interviews or conferences relating to their area of expertise. The advantages of a small place kick in at this point as it can be easy to make contacts and get a good few appointments crammed into one day. Bodies such as The Malta Chamber of Commerce offer some interesting seminars which provide a good way to network and make some useful connections. While Malta Enterprise has resources for those thinking of starting a business here.
Useful Links on other aspects of Malta living
Grocery price list (updating soon)
Photo: courtesy of Leslie Vella