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09/07/2021

Rate of early school-leavers halved between 2005 and 2020 - analysis

Malta managed to half the rate of early school leavers from its 2005 levels, but despite the improvement still has the highest rate in the EU, an analysis conducted by the Central Bank of Malta shows.

The 16.7% rate in 2020 is still short of the EU's 10% benchmark.

While early school leavers may still find a job, lacking basic qualifications compromises employability later in life due to lacking skills and has economic and social costs. The data for 2018 show that the median gross hourly earnings for those with a tertiary level of education were 40% higher than the median earnings of those with an intermediate level of education and 65% more than those with only a basic level of education.

The EU set out two education-related targets in 2010, to be reached by 2020 as part of Europe 2020 strategy - for the share of early school leavers to be reduced to 10% and for at least 40% people aged 30 to 34 to have completed tertiary or equivalent education. Malta adopted the same target in respect of early school leavers but set out the target in respect of tertiary educational attainment for 30- to 34-year-olds to 33% - a target it achieved by 2017.

The share of population having a tertiary level of education almost trebled between 2005 and 2020, from 10.3% to 28.0%. By last year, 40.3% had at best a basic level of education equivalent to lower secondary education, while 31.7% had an upper secondary or post-secondary non-tertiary level of education.

Employment rates of those with a tertiary level of education have consistently been higher than for those with a low and medium level of education while the opposite holds true in case of unemployment rates.

Even though leaving school with a basic level of education, data shows that most early school leavers in Malta were still employed. In fact, almost seven out of ten early school leavers in Malta were employed in 2020, the highest employment rate of early school leavers across the EU.

This suggests that despite the lack of official qualifications, early school leavers in Malta may still possess skills that are relevant for the labour market. Nonetheless, lacking basic qualifications compromises employability later in life and has economic and social costs.

Predictions of future skills need in Europe suggest that in the coming years only one in ten jobs will be within reach for those with a basic level of education, as the demand for those with low qualifications is projected to fall as more employers seek highly skilled employees. In this regard, upskilling and on-the-job training as part of lifelong-learning schemes could prove to be an alternative to formal education and help individuals to progress further up in their careers, or find alternative employment, even at stages where they are unlikely to return to formal education, the report notes.

Read the full report here.

KEY FACTS FROM THE REPORT:

  • There has been a significant improvement in educational attainment driven both by higher education attainment by Maltese students and the importation of skilled labour from abroad.
  • Between 2012 and 2019, the Maltese government increased spending by 70%, the second highest growth rate amongst EU 27 Member States.
  • The employment rate for persons aged between 15 and 64 with a higher education qualification was 89.4% as at 2020, 14.2 percentage points higher than that of people with a medium level of education and 27.6 percentage points higher than that of people with a basic level of education.
  • Higher educational attainment is bound to have positive effects on employability of older workers while the gender gap in employment rate narrows as educational attainment increases.
  • While the employment rates of those with a medium and high-level of education rose in 2020, the employment rate for those with a low level of education declined suggesting that the COVID-19 pandemic hit the less-educated workers the hardest.
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