MGA survey on skills gap

Report highlights the skills gap within the remote gaming industry

The Malta Gaming Authority (‘MGA’) has published a report which highlights the findings of a survey conducted during the first quarter of 2018 and which focuses on the skills gap within the remote gaming industry. One of the key conclusions of the survey is that vacancies within the igaming sector necessitates specialised training, and that the main reason for unfulfilled vacancies is the general lack of work experience.

From a macroeconomic point of view, the report highlights the impact that the remote gaming sector has had on the Maltese economy with €1.1 billion in Gross Value Added (‘GVA’) being added to the local economy in 2017, an increase of 10% over 2016 and has become the 3rd largest sector in the economy. By the end of 2017 the amount of gaming companies that are licensed in Malta stood at 294 and have generated 6,673 full-time jobs.

The report, however, also points out that by the end of 2017 remote gaming companies in Malta have reported a total of 781 unfilled positions. The main cause for these unfulfilled vacancies primarily stems from competition for human capital from other firms, however 57% of respondents have highlighted that the lack of appropriate skills or experience is also a main cause of unfilled vacancies. Attracting employees from abroad does not seem to be a major problem for respondents, with only 2% highlighting this as an issue.

The main roles required within the gaming industry can be grouped in 6 categories, namely:

  1. Game operation and development,
  2. Data and analysis,
  3. Technology,
  4. Marketing,
  5. Legal and compliance, and
  6. Administrative roles.

According to the respondents of the survey the main sources of recruitment primarily derive from workers that are already employed with other firms in Malta (60%). The majority of remote gaming companies seemingly tend to recruit workers that are already employed by other firms in the online gaming sector (37%) or in other industries (24%).

Workers recruited immediately following education was reported by only 15% of the companies that were surveyed. The report comes to the conclusion that the majority of large firms (over 250 employees full time employees) prefer to recruit experienced employees either from within the gaming sector or from other industries, unlike in the case of micro firms (up to 10 full time employees) where 15% indicated that they were open to recruiting workers that were newly graduated from University level studies. When dealing with filling existing skill gaps 67% of large firms indicated that the primary approach utilised is through in-house training.

The reason for this stems from the fact that large firms prefer to train their staff in relation to specific products, systems, cultures and values that seem to be pertinent to the way that particular firm operates. On the other hand smaller firms are more likely to outsource the training of their staff, or not invest in staff training whatsoever due to the associated costs. The report highlights several Government incentives which a gaming operator may resort to with regard to education and training of staff, mainly:

  1. Education and training provided by Government higher education institutions, against no payment for qualifying students;
  2. Education and training at private higher education and training institutions paid for by participants, with costs potentially partly or fully reimbursed through national or EU funded schemes or tax credits; and
  3. Education and training at private higher education and training institutions paid for by the employer of participants, with costs potentially partly or fully reimbursed through national or EU funded schemes or tax credits.

Moreover, the report also highlights that the MGA is to launch a ‘Student Placement Programme’ initiative which seeks to address the issue between the supply and demand for gaming skills in the Maltese labour market by encouraging students to work with remote gaming companies whilst also acquiring skills which are useful to the industry.

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