Maltese and Gozitan families want a dynamic and growing economy that provides for them, for their children’s education and future, but also an economy that caters for their parents.
Like most EU Mediterranean countries, Malta is experiencing a significant demographic change characterised by an ageing population. Driven by improved healthcare and longer life expectancy, the proportion of individuals aged 65 years and more is expected to continue to rise in the coming years. This demographic change triggers challenges such as pension sustainability and increased demands in healthcare. However, it also presents an opportunity for the development of the silver economy. The silver economy is a term used to describe the economic activities and opportunities related to the aging population, particularly those aged 50 and above.
Extending working careers
Malta’s success has been attributed to its capability of turning challenging times into opportunities. This time it’s no different.
One of the key aspects of the silver economy is the valuable workforce of experienced and skilled seniors. Many older individuals in Malta are eager to remain active in the labour market. They bring a wealth of knowledge, experience, and a strong work ethic. Recognising this potential, businesses and SMEs should be aided and encouraged to engage this skilled workforce, by offering part-time, flexible, or consultancy positions to older workers.
We need to extend work incentives to those who have paid enough NI contributions to retire at age 61 and would like to work beyond their early retirement age. We need to encourage them to extend their careers and keep their active contribution with their experience and skills.
In addition, there is room for further public-private partnerships that would allow our industries to promote and invest in upskilling and reskilling of our entire labour force.
These programs help seniors stay updated in their fields or even explore new career paths, whilst contributing to their economic independence and social inclusion.
Healthcare and wellness
The silver economy also focuses on providing healthcare and wellness services tailor-made towards senior citizens. In Malta, there is a growing market for older generations- focused healthcare services, assisted living facilities and wellness and fitness programmes which offer exercise classes, specifically tailored to senior citizens. These projects do not only enhance the quality of life for our older individuals through social interaction but also create more opportunities for entrepreneurs and healthcare providers.
The potential of the silver economy extends into the tourism sector. More and more senior citizens are using their time to do what they always wanted: to travel and enjoy new experiences. In line with our ambition to target better quality tourism, our hospitality providers should do well to cater for older, usually more affluent guests, ensuring accessibility, comfort and safety.
These include leisure cruises, guided heritage tours and wellness retreats designed for senior citizens.
Malta can also be a retirement destination for senior citizens particularly those living in the northern part of the European continent.
The increasing level of digital literacy across generations can be pivotal for the growth of the silver economy. Smart home technologies, Artificial Intelligence (AI), and services focused on health monitoring play a crucial role.
Malta can be the jurisdiction of choice for start-up companies that are willing to invest in prototyping, development and testing of such products and services.
Seniors might sometimes feel apprehensive towards new technologies. Digital literacy programmes held in the community which empower seniors to master digital services are paramount. We should also address these challenges by investing more in customer support professionals and train them to assist seniors. Such initiatives will keep our elders to stay engaged and connected, reducing feelings of isolation.
A silver economic asset
The European Commission predicts that the silver economy’s contribution to GDP will reach €6.4 trillion and employ 88 million people across the continent by 2025. This is nothing short of 32% of European GDP and 38% of the Union’s employment. Numbers speak for themselves, senior citizens are a huge economic asset critical for the growth of the broader European economy.
The Silver way forward
The silver economy in Malta is a growing and dynamic sector with massive potential. As the country’s population keeps ageing and changing, there’s a growing awareness among the government, businesses, and community about how important it is to tap into the knowledge and skills of the older generations.
This isn’t merely about promoting economic growth; it’s also about enhancing the overall quality of life for older residents and enhancing inclusiveness as we create a better economy which benefits everyone.