The Malta Independent 17 June 2024, Monday
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MEA stresses need for nationwide strategy to support foreign workers in logistics industry

Tuesday, 30 April 2024, 15:49 Last update: about 3 months ago

The Malta Employers’ Association (MEA) on Tuesday published a report entitled “Foreign Workers in the Logistics Industry – Addressing HR Challenges”. The report features recommendations and insights that were compiled in last November’s SME’s National Forum.

Present for this press conference were the MEA’s Director General Joseph Farrugia, the Director General of the Foundation for Transport, Kevin Farrugia, and Identità CEO Steve Agius.

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Farrugia said that “the structure of Malta’s economy, and namely the logistics industry, over time, is becoming more dependent on foreigners – and especially third-country nationals.”

He also described the impossibility in having a single strategy dedicated for all industries simultaneously, describing that this report was dedicated to the logistics industry as part of a series of MEA publications. According to Farrugia, these reports tackle themes that are affecting the whole of society.

Identità CEO Steve Agius highlighted the importance to move on from a “one-size-fits-all concept” and shift towards focusing on individual industries and their respective needs. Agius also stated that on behalf of his agency, “we must ensure bringing in quality workers, seeing that they do not grow frustrated, and that they do not suffer abuses by their employers.”

Agius said that Identità shall remain committed to “assisting responsible employers in the recruitment process of foreign labour” while honouring its own twin objectives of improving the efficiency of application processes and simultaneously safeguarding Malta’s national security.

On behalf of the Foundation for Transport, its Director General Kevin Farrugia spoke about the importance for the national strategy in this regard to serve the country over the medium to long-term. He also mentioned the importance in foreign workers being knowledgeable of local transport and traffic-related regulations, in addition to ensuring that they own certification of the required local level, in order to ensure having safer roads.

This report reads that the logistics sector accounts for nearly 4% of total registered business units and 8,185 employees. Furthermore, “In 2021, the logistics sector included freight transport by road, sea and coastal freight water transport, freight air transport, warehousing and storage, and postal and courier services.” In the same year, foreign workers made up 18.7% of employees – half of which were EU nationals. In 2010, only 2.9% of all employees within the logistics sector were foreign workers.

 

MEA report’s main recommendations

The first of three major recommendations from MEA’s report is for a nationwide strategy featuring “a clear action plan” for enterprises and the economy to be developed for the medium to long-term.

“The strategy is to be built on the premise of transforming our country’s output into one which is of higher value-added and our labour force into one which is increasingly productive,” the report reads.

On behalf of the Malta Employers’ Association, Director General Farrugia stressed that this strategy must maximise the country’s limited resources, including its human resources, “whilst ensuring that we move from growth to sustainable development mantras.”

“A well-drafted strategy would be a catalyst for the appropriate planning of our labour market needs,” wrote the MEA.

The report’s second main recommendation was to appoint an “expert task force” capable of “forecasting all aspects relating to demography”, including the country’s population size, birth rates, and migration flows. The report suggests that the task force monitors and advises upon “the various demographic crises being faced”. To this extent, the task force should also be in a position to project different scenarios that meet the Maltese islands’ “preferred economic trajectories.”

MEA sustained that these steps are necessary in allowing policymakers to “make the necessary decisions promptly, instead of being caught in a reactive loop.”

The MEA’s final recommendation is that the logistics sector, which is mainly comprised of micro and small companies, adopts a “pilot-analysis approach”. It added that “similarly placed sectors” should take up the same approach, arguing that this would allow them to achieve economies of scale in terms of operations and HR planning purposes.

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