Malta Employers Association director general Joseph Farrugia called for an overhaul in the STEM curriculum to make it accessible for more children. Speaking at the National SME Forum on Thursday, Mr Farrugia said that Malta has a resilient economy that is able to change within a few years, but the country needs to be proactive in combining reskilling and digitalisation strategies that prepare for a more inclusive future.
The National SME Forum brought together experts and leaders from industry, policymaking, and research with a specialisation in the fields of digital transformation and reskilling. The guest speakers discussed the impact on economic development and social value by emerging technologies, changes in the jobs market, and the education system.
“We cannot afford a situation where there are 800 vacancies in the iGaming sector while hundreds of other people are unemployed,” insisted Mr Farrugia, explaining that new skills need to match the opportunities offered by the digital economy and leave no one behind.
MEA President Dolores Sammut Bonnici explained that preparation for resilience requires investment and effort by employers, but it will also open new opportunities for business and better quality of life, such as the development of new family-friendly working conditions that will upgrade both the customer and employee experience.
The conference was also addressed by Economy Minister Silvio Schembri who said that unless companies adapt to new technologies and skills, they will die a natural death. Parliamentary Secretary Clayton Bartolo said that Malta has the right conditions to attract new industry niches such as high-performance computing, e-sports, and big data. These changes demand a new skills strategy, he said, that involves all stakeholders.
Opposition spokesperson Kristy Debono warned that failing to support the digital transformation in SMEs would lead to a digital divide between small and large enterprises.
Machines will eventually replace routines, not jobsFuture Thinker Gerd Leonhard
In his keynote speech, Future Thinker Gerd Leonhard said that machines will eventually replace routines not jobs, and foresees that human skills like creativity, ethics, emotional intelligence, and collaboration will become crucial for future employment.
The international conference was streamed live to audiences in other countries in Europe, North Africa, and the Middle East. The virtual audience took part in the panel discussion with real-time questions and comments.
Hosted by the Malta Employers Association, the forum was organised in collaboration with the Ministry for The Economy, Investment and Small Businesses and the Parliamentary Secretariat for Financial Services and Digital Economy as part of the official Malta SME Week programme on the occasion of the European SME Week 2020.
The event can be followed again online on the MEA Facebook Page.