Malta outperforms EU in employment rates, lacks in educational attainment

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Malta’s employment and activity rates continue to surpass EU averages, according to an analysis of labour force numbers carried out by the National Statistics Office, but lags behind in a number of education-related criteria.

Over the last six years, the activity rate – that is either in employment or still in education, for the 15-64 age group rose from 68.8 per cent in 2015 to 77.1 per cent in 2020. Females played an important role in labour market growth. In this regard, the female activity rate increased 12.1 percentage points. On the other hand, the contribution of males to the overall increase in activity rate was of 3.9 percentage points between 2015 and 2020.

The highest activity rate was recorded among those aged 25 to 54. On average, out of every 100 males aged between 25 and 54 years, 96 were active. For females in this age group, activity rates registered a substantial increase and in fact between 2015 and 2020, there was a rise of 11.9 percentage points.

The overall national activity rate (15-64 years) for 2020 was 4.2 percentage points higher than that recorded for EU27. National activity rates were higher than EU 27 indicators for all age groups except for the 55 to 64 year olds.

In fact, in spite of the considerable growth observed over the past six years, EU 27 activity rates for the 55 to 64 age
group were found to be 8.2 percentage points higher than national rates.

Employment and Unemployment

In 2020, on average, out of every 100 persons aged between 15 and 64 years, 74 were employed. During these
years, male employment rates increased by an average of 0.9 percentage points per year whereas female rates
increased by an average of 2.4 percentage points per annum.

At a national level, more males and females tend to be in employment when compared to the EU 27 average. The
largest gap was recorded for the 15 to 24 year olds with the national employment rate recorded at 48 per cent as
compared with 31.5 per cent for the EU 27. On the other hand, the 55 to 64 age bracket showed that the EU 27
employment rates were 6.9 percentage points higher than national rates.

Unemployment rates have been declining steadily during the past years, however during 2020 the rate increased
again to 4.4 per cent. In 2020, the male and female unemployment rates stood at 4.3 and 4.5 per
cent respectively.

When comparing to EU 27 levels, national rates for 2020 were lower for both sexes across all age groups. The
largest diff erences between EU 27 levels and national rates were however prevalent in the younger cohort where,
the difference was 3.6 percentage points for males and 8.5 percentage points for females


Another Europe 2020 headline indicator is the rate of early leavers from education and training (ELET). In 2020,
the ELET rate stood at 12.6 per cent, recording a drop of 3.7 percentage points from 2015 levels. The ELET rate
registered a decrease for both males and females at 4.5 and 2.9 percentage points respectively over the last six

Although Malta’s levels for the early leavers from education and training indicator declined significantly over the
years, national values were still higher when compared to European averages. In 2020, the rate was 2.6 percentage
points higher than the EU 2020 national target of 10 per cent.

At the same time, data for 2020 show that the number of persons aged 20 to 24 years achieving at least an upper
secondary level of education was 85.1 per cent, with the national rate being 0.8 percentage points higher than the
EU 27 average.

Another Europe headline indicator is the tertiary educational attainment for the 30 to 34 year age group
Within this age group, there has been an increasing trend of persons attaining tertiary education for both males and
females. Tertiary educational attainment increased by 10.7 percentage points over the past six years. In 2020, tertiary
educational attainment stood at 39.8 per cent, hence surpassing the EU 2020 national target of 33 per cent.

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