Sharp drop in share of Maltese with low education

The share of Maltese persons aged 15 to 64 having a low level of education decreased from 59.6% in 2010 to 37% in 2020.

A recent release of data relating to long term trends in educational attainment confirms Malta’s progress in the education sector.

In 2012 more than three fifths of all those aged 15 and over had a low educational level. This means they either had no schooling, or a primary education, or had attained a secondary level education but had less than 2 O-levels or equivalent qualifications. By 2020 this proportion had fallen to nearly two fifths.

For the first time in history, in 2018 we had less than half our adult population with a low level of education. In 2020 we had a quarter of the adult population with a high level of education, more than one and a half times what we had in 2012.

Whereas in 2012 we had about 78,000 workers with a low education level, by 2020 we had just about 82,500. Contrast this with the trend in workers with a high education level, which rose from less than 42,000 in 2012 to nearly 89,000 in 2020. This seems to unravel the ‘cheap labour economy’ narrative of Opposition spokespersons. The reality is an economy that more than doubled its intake of graduates in just seven years.

The number of workers with a high level of education rose from less than 42,000 in 2012 to nearly 89,000 in 2020.

From an economy where half the jobs were for those with low education, Malta is now an economy where the majority of jobs require a medium to high education level. That said, our economy has continued to generate enough jobs even for those with low education attainment. From a situation where the employment rate for those with low education was barely 50%, it is now close to two-thirds.

Back in 2012 Malta’s early school leaving rate was 18.1%. Now it is 12.6%. We are getting very close to the EU28 target of 10%. In fact, among women, we have reached the target. It is among men that the rate remains higher, at 15%. That said, it has been among male students that we have seen the best improvement. Back in 2012, 23% of male students left school early, nearly ten percentage points more than female students. By 2020 the gender gap was halved to less than five percentage points.

These results come with the largest investment in education ever witnessed in Malta’s history. Last year, the Government invested €676 million out of the Consolidated Fund on education. In 2013 education outlays were just €392 million. In 7 years, there was an annual average increase that exceeded 10%. The number of full-timers employed in public sector education rose to over 12,250, or by nearly 2,000 since the change in Government.

The basic pay of a teacher has increased by nearly €5,000 since 2013, a rise of 27%. For every €4 rise under theprevious administration, this government has given €5. This when back then, inflation was much higher. In fact, if one accounts for inflation, an entry-level teacher saw a 10.6% rise in the purchasing power of their wage between 2005 and 2013. By contrast, between 2013 and 2021 the same role experienced a rise of 18.7%.

This unprecedented investment in education is yielding excellent returns. The highly educated workforce that is being generated underpins the success of Malta’s economy and is the source of our nation’s new prosperity.   

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