Maltese workers moving up the managerial ladder

A Maltese person is nowadays one and a half times more likely to occupy a managerial position than being in an elementary occupation.

Discussions about the labour market frequently touch on the issue of whether it is true or not that the Maltese are going for more highly paid occupations. With the publication of the most recent Census, combined with information extracted from the previous Census and information on foreign workers published by Jobsplus, one can start to answer this question.

The Census reveals that, in 2021, there were nearly 200,000 Maltese in employment. The largest occupational category were professionals, with a share of over 21%. The smallest categories are the armed forces and skilled agricultural, forestry, and fishery workers with a combined share nearly ten times less than that of professionals. There are nearly more Maltese managers than Maltese who are plant and machine operators and those engaged in elementary occupations, taken together. This already gives one a clear picture that the Maltese workforce is quite well-skilled.

The 2011 census did not distinguish employment by nationality, but when one uses Jobsplus data on the number of foreign workers, one can deduce the amount of Maltese workers by occupational status. This shows, for instance, that in 2011 the largest category of workers were service and sales workers, and not professionals. Moreover, Maltese managers were nowhere near as common as they are now. The number of plant and machine operators and those engaged in elementary occupations was more than one and a half times the amount of managers.

When one compares the two years, one can easily notice that the number of craft and related trade workers and that of plant and machine operators have fallen considerably. The number of those in elementary occupations has risen, but by a relatively small amount. Nine out of ten of the additional Maltese workers were either managers, professionals, or technicians and associate professionals.  

Number of Maltese workers by occupational category

20212011Change
 Armed forces1,6701,61357
 Managers23,39016,1657,225
 Professionals42,07124,89517,176
 Technicians and associate professionals30,85220,9569,896
 Clerical support workers21,30317,8883,415
 Service and sales workers36,71931,8584,861
 Skilled agricultural, forestry and fishery workers2,8722,195677
 Craft and related trades workers15,94517,846–            1,901
 Plant and machine operators, and assemblers9,41411,006–            1,592
 Elementary occupations15,53415,045489
 Total199,770159,46740,303

The data show that there was an overall significant increase in the number of Maltese working in Malta. However, since we know that there were substantial inflows of foreigners, the subsequent question is the extent to which the Maltese were enough to satisfy demand for labour by each occupational category – in essence, out of the overall increase in the number of workers in a particular category, how much were Maltese.

The data shows that new Maltese professionals accounted for nearly two-thirds of the overall increase in the number of professionals in Malta between 2011 and 2021.  Three-fifths of the increase in skilled agricultural, forestry, and fishery workers were of new Maltese workers. A similar proportion was registered for technicians and for managers.

For lower skilled categories, the Maltese did not constitute a majority of the additional workers. For instance, only 4% of all new elementary occupations were filled by Maltese citizens. For clerical jobs, the proportion was just 38%, while for service and sales positions, the proportion was less than 30%. As for craft and trade workers, and plant and machine operators, all of the increase was of foreign workers, who also replaced the Maltese who moved out of these occupational categories. 

Once again the data is clear and dispels all misconceptions about the state of the Maltese labour market. The Maltese are clearly moving up the managerial ladder. A Maltese person is nowadays one and a half times more likely to occupy a managerial position than being in an elementary occupation. In 2011 this was not the case.

When discussing the growth in the Maltese labour market, it is important to understand that it is not just a queston of more employment for the Maltese  but of more employment in the higher part of the occupational pyramid.

Proportion of increase in overall workforce that was Maltese

Armed forces100%
 Professionals65%
 Skilled agricultural, forestry, and fishery workers61%
 Technicians and associate professionals58%
 Managers56%
 Clerical support workers38%
 Service and sales workers29%
 Elementary occupations4%
 Craft and related trades workersN/A
 Plant and machine operators, and assemblersN/A
 Total39%

Photo: Kampus Production

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