Foreign Skilled Workers Can Now Enter Malta Under Fast-Track Scheme

 The ‘Specialist Employee Initiative’, which offers a fast-track application process for skilled foreign workers in Malta, has become effective, enabling the European island country to tackle skill shortages in the labour market.

According to the Times of Malta, all university graduates or those who are qualified in a managerial or technical role and who make at least €25,000 annually are eligible to apply, reports.

Another requirement that must be met for employees to be candidates for the scheme includes their employers proving that there are no Maltese or EU workers that can fill the role.

Furthermore, the scheme enables skilled third-country nationals to have their applications processed within 15 working days, while the “Key Employee Initiative”, which is the source scheme that inspired the “Specialist Employee Initiative”, fast-tracks applications of highly paid managers or technicians within five days.

According to data from Jobsplus, the influx of foreign workers to Malta has seen a significant increase, rising from 15,000 in 2012 to 97,000 in 2022 – a 546 per cent increase. On the other hand, A Eurobarometer survey conducted last year revealed that nearly two-thirds of businesses in Malta were dealing with skills shortages in the local labour market.

The surge in migration, particularly from third (non-EU) countries, has raised concerns about worker exploitation and strained the country’s infrastructure, including housing and traffic. Maltese citizens have expressed their concerns about the impact of this migration influx.

In response to the criticism, Prime Minister Robert Abela stated that while the government is working to address and manage population growth, the local workforce’s supply does not meet the demand. The introduction of the ‘Specialist Employee Initiative’ aligns with the government’s commitment to addressing skill gaps and ensuring a smoother integration of skilled foreign workers.

With the fast-track process now in place, the Maltese government aims to strike a balance between meeting the demands of the labour market and addressing the concerns raised by citizens regarding the challenges posed by increased migration.

According to the AIDA Asylum Information Database report, a total of 973 people applied for asylum in Malta in 2022. This takes the total number of cases pending to 1,730. Some 15 people were granted refugee status, and 172 were offered subsidiary protection.

In addition, 783 were rejected, taking the rejection rate to 30 per cent, while the refugee rate was 0.6 per cent. The issuance of subsidiary protection rates reaches 6.5 per cent. The main countries of origin are Syria (243), Eritrea (93), Bangladesh (78) and Ukraine (92).

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