Editorial: Retaining and improving skills

Last Updated on Saturday, 10 December, 2022 at 11:13 am by Andre Camilleri

A few days ago, a survey conducted by EY indicated that three fourths of young people would rather live outside Malta.

The results showed that 77 per cent of millennials – people born between 1981 and 1996 – and 72 per cent of Gen-Z – the people born between 1997 and 2012 – would like to live abroad, rather than stay here.

The younger generations, those who are in the first half of their working life and those who are still to start it, do not like it here and, given the chance, they would migrate.

The results this year show a similar pattern in the Gen-Z cohort, but a 3 per cent rise in the millennials group.

Now, it does now mean that three-fourths of the people will up and leave Malta in the next months. Most of them will end up staying here. But there is a strong risk that, given the opportunities that exist in other countries, especially in Europe, a sizeable section of the people who are younger than 41 could leave Malta for better pastures.

In the age of connectivity, with travelling made easier and with technological advances making any distance seem small, this is no surprise.

But it is also worrying that so many of the younger generations feel this way. It means that they do not like living in this country. It means that our ways have become too cumbersome for them. It means that the life they live here is not fulfilling enough. It means that our society is pushing them away rather than trying to hold on to them.

Perhaps it’s because we have become too over-populated. Perhaps it’s because they feel that they do not have the right opportunities. Perhaps it’s because what they can get elsewhere cannot be given to them here. Perhaps it’s also because they do not like what we have become.

Parents who in the past were afraid that their children would go to live abroad are now pushing them to try it. Because Malta is no longer the charming and welcoming place it used to be not so long ago.

It also means that there is a great risk that Malta could lose their skills and abilities. This is of greater concern when one thinks of a situation in which the average age of our population increases, while the Maltese working population decreases as the younger Maltese shift to other countries.

What about the jobs available? What about a sustainable pension system? Are we risking coming to a point when there will be more foreigners than Maltese working in Malta?

These are all questions that we need to ask ourselves.

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