“Largest agreement in Malta’s history” in microchip sector

In future, many electronic devices around the world will feature components made in Malta. This project will employ hundreds of workers, each receiving a competitive salary.

The creation of jobs is a crucial aspect of economic growth and stability. Although we have heard so much about job creation over the past years, the discourse is now shifting more towards good quality jobs, that are so important to develop a resilient middle class, reduce income inequality, and promote social cohesion.  

There are at least three sectors in which we can expect to see quality-jobs being created in the near future.

  • The microchip sector

Microchips are tiny electronic devices that perform various functions in almost all electronic equipment, be it smartphones, laptops, tablets, televisions, gaming consoles, medical devices, and so on.

Minister for Economy, Enterprise, and Strategic Projects, Silvio Schembri, revealed to The Journal that a substantial investment agreement, “possibly the largest in our country’s history”, was recently concluded in the sector of microchip technology, particularly in the areas of research and innovation. This agreement means that, in future, many electronic devices around the world will feature components made in Malta.

The workforce for this project will number in the hundreds and each worker will be paid well. The Government is also committed to ensuring that training is available, particularly for those who have not previously had these opportunities. The Minister expressed the Government’s aim to assist these individuals in fully utilising these opportunities.

More detailed information about this development is expected to be shared in the coming weeks.

Malta is no novice to this field. STMicroelectronics, with 1,800 employees in Kirkop, is one of Malta’s biggest private employers. Open since 1981, it is Europe’s largest assembly and testing facility for electronics, focusing on the final stage of chip manufacturing for over 1,200 ST products.

  • Medical devices

In the medical devices sector, another major investment is soon to be announced. This initiative will create job opportunities where individuals can start at a basic level and receive training to progress to higher wages.

“This strategy is a key part of our approach to the labour market and attracting the right kind of economic activity to our country,” said Minister Schembri.

  • Videogame development

In emerging sectors like video game development, there is a notable skills gap among Maltese individuals, the Minister noted. To address this, the Government has significantly invested in the education sector. A key example is a partnership with a leading software provider for game development. This collaboration aims to train up to 200 students and 20 lecturers in Malta.

Moreover, an academy has been established at MCAST, and an institute at the University of Malta which ranks among the top ten in the world.

“These initiatives have already started, and over the next few years we expect to see more Maltese people certified by Unity, a respected authority in game development. This certification will enable them to work with any company in the sector,” said the Minister.

The context

Although there has been notable progress in creating opportunities in Malta, these might not be equally accessible to everyone. Whilst the Minister acknowledged this, he explained that this inequality highlights the ongoing need for effort in quality job creation.

Minister Schembri drew on the context of foreign direct investment in our country. Malta experienced a significant unemployment crisis in 2013, when over 7,000 people were jobless. Today, this number has been reduced to just a few hundred.

“At that time, we embraced any investment that created jobs. Now, however, the situation is reversed, and we face a shortage of workers. It is impractical to continue attracting industries to our country that require large numbers of workers, particularly in labour-intensive sectors,” said the Minister.

In the future, the Government plans to attract more high-value economic activities that require fewer employees but offer better wages, such as the ones he highlighted in this interview.

“The Government’s commitment to enhancing wages is pivotal to its economic policy. We aim to nurture the development of a new middle class and sustain its support,” he concluded.

Main photo: Harrison Broadbent on Unsplash

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