Labour shortage caused by pandemic sees RecruitGiant revise strategy to fill vacancies

The labour shortages Malta is experiencing mean that salaries for many of the vacancies serviced by recruiting agencies have risen by 75 to 100 per cent over the past 18 months

Tomas Mikalauskas
Tomas Mikalauskas

With most businesses returning to full operations now that most of the COVID-19 mitigating measures have been lifted, the labour shortage has left major recruiting agencies in Malta with as many as 500 vacancies to fill on any given day.

The impact of the coronavirus pandemic meant that many foreign workers either returned home or went to look for new opportunities elsewhere. But now that the economy is reopening, there are nowhere near enough workers around.

Tomas Mikalauskas, CEO of RecruitGiant, told MaltaToday that the main challenge recruiters are facing in dealing with this shortage is that travel remains difficult. 

“This is not helped by the fact that Malta has not been  not accepting vaccination certificates from certain countries like India where, pre-pandemic, we had set up training centres specifically to give workers the skills they need to work in Malta,” he said. 

“While we continue to invest in training in India and other countries,  it’s simply been impossible for workers to come here.”

As a result, RecruitGiant has shifted its focus to trying to recruit from other countries such as the United Arab Emirates. Malta accepts the UAE vaccine certificate and the fact that working conditions there are very tough means that many people from South-East Asia who live there are keen to find new opportunities. 

The company is also trying to find workers from other EU countries. Technically it’s much easier for people who are EU citizens or already resident in the EU to move. On the other hand, however, there is less incentive for these people to move as the difference in salary and lifestyle isn’t going to be that great. 

Mikalauskas said that, although Maltese jobseekers can also, of course, apply for vacancies on offer, they never do. He explained that Malta is, and will remain, attractive to non-EU workers for several reasons. “Of course, many of the non-EU workers who do come to Malta are looking for opportunities to learn and improve their skills,” he said. 

“For many, the experience of working in Europe can also translate into much better career prosects back home.” 

But these career and economic benefits are not exclusive to Malta.

Malta’s main advantage is the fact that it is English speaking, something which is a big plus for workers migrating from other former British colonies. A hot climate also helps. In other words, Malta offers the benefits of other EU countries but also has a couple of added advantages in its favour.

Mikalauskas stressed that the company does not make any profit whatsoever from workers it recruits to fill vacancies in Malta. It also makes sure to comply fully with all relevant employment legislation. That means that every worker who comes to Malta through RecruitGiant has all the necessary paperwork in order and has a proper contract of employment, including all statutory benefits.

“As a business we either recruit employees for third parties or we employ people directly and then sub-contract these workers to our clients,” he said. “Our margins come from the fees we charge clients –  the employers – for filling their vacancies.”

The process of bringing non-EU workers to Malta is complex and expensive. On top of the fees due to Identity Malta and other Government institutions, there is the time needed to deal with all the bureaucracy both before and after workers arrive. 

On top of this, many new arrivals, who rarely have much money with them, have been spending two weeks in quarantine at a hotel which is not exactly cheap. RecruitGiant carries all these costs and as a result it does charge workers an administrative fee to manage the process of relocation and for obtaining the necessary permits. 

“I would also add that the labour shortages we are experiencing mean that we have seen salaries for many of the vacancies we fill increase by 75 to 100 per cent over the past 18 months,” Mikalauskas said. 

RecruitGiant is based in Malta but it fills vacancies in many countries across the EU. All of these markets, from Cyprus to Latvia and from France to Poland, are facing labour shortages although this problem manifests itself differently in different countries. 

“For example, on the continent, the shortage of lorry drivers is particularly acute. But the fact is that Europe is an aging continent and every country needs to import labour to keep their economy moving,” Mikalauskas said. “We simply don’t have enough people to do all the jobs that need doing.” 

And the harder it becomes to bring in non-EU workers, either because of the pandemic or because of political decisions, the greater the threat to Europe’s long-term economic prosperity. 

“That, in a nutshell, is the challenge and the opportunity before us,” he said.