The Malta Independent 19 April 2019, Friday

The impact of digitalisation on employment

Norma Camilleri Thursday, 14 March 2019, 12:09 Last update: about 2 months ago

Technology is seen as one of the strategic drivers and artificial intelligence is going to affect all sectors. Digitalisation brings along a requirement for deeper academic knowledge. All professionals need to have basic IT skills and certain professions need to have specific training in certain areas of digitalisation and advanced skills to handle this process. Digitalisation can release a professional from mechanical issues and hence allow them to use their expertise elsewhere. It should not be seen as making certain professions become obsolete but rather help them become more efficient. The mindset of both professionals and service users needs to change and adapt to new situations. It is seen as an opportunity to increase employment in other sectors and is bound to affect all areas including engineering, health and finances.

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These views were reported by professionals who participated in a focus group organised by the Malta Federation of Professional Associations. This meeting was held as part of a project led by Confprofessioni, the federation of liberal professions in Italy. The project was funded by the European Union, the aim of which is to confirm the role of social dialogue mechanism for the sustainability of liberal professions threatened by the impact of digitalisation. 

The discussion ensued on how digitalisation may be creating a separation between people who are IT competent and those who are not. The increased use of technology is having a positive impact on continuous professional development (CPD) as it is being used to update oneself, facilitate meetings, through teleconference, between different entities and embark on long distance learning. Online updated material is easier to access. New graduates are often told they are not qualified enough for certain jobs due to lack of soft skills. The professional has to build up competence to be able to give proper advice to clients. In the health sector the professional may be required to give advice on how to use certain apps, machines and  portable devices.

It is neither appropriate that digitalisation may limit employment of older generations, nor that a professional becomes unemployable at a certain age because of technology. To avoid this professionals should top up their skills in relation to this field. Professional organisations may have a very important role in providing the right CPD, especially addressing this area as well as soft skills. Digitalisation will affect any firm whether within the public or private sector and also affects management and financial aspects.

Key factors that enable positive results of the social dialogue mechanism in the liberal professions’ sector were discussed:

                   A specific endpoint should be defined, carry out an analysis of the situation to evaluate and determine what needs to be carried out to achieve that endpoint.

                   Social dialogue should not just be a talking shop but a place where results are achieved, evaluated and implemented. One of the results should be the creation of an effective framework to implement the paradigm shift created by digitalisation.

                   It is often felt there is a lack of participation of professional bodies in social dialogue. They should be encouraged to have a very active role.

                   To add legitimacy one should have participation across the board and ensure that social dialogue involves all relevant stakeholders

 

 

MFPA was set up in 1971 by seven founding organisations and today comprises of 17 professional organisations representing none less than 10,000 professionals in Malta. One of the current most important objectives of MFPA is to develop initiatives that accentuate the importance of professional ethics at a national level and including collaboration with member EU states. This is the Federation’s contribution towards a competitive and ever-growing economy that remains at the service of citizens. It constantly strives to be a catalyst in the social aspect of Maltese community and economy and is actively involved in social dialogue. For this purpose it has embarked on several projects and maintains active participation within CEPLIS, the European Council for Liberal Professions.  In 2018 it partnered with Confprofessioni on the above mentioned EU funded project regarding social dialogue. As part of this project, a business breakfast is being held today in collaboration with the Malta Business Weekly on ‘Sustainability Measures to Protect Employment’. Follow the discussion on www.independent.com.mt

 

Norma Camilleri is projects manager at the Malta Federation of Professional Associations

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