Friday, 27 June 2014

What industry sectors in Malta have the highest potential for software engineers?

Software developers with the right mix of talent, experience and qualifications are in demand across a wide variety of Maltese industries. With the island starting to attract high-end game development studios and the continuing success of leading technology companies, such opportunities are only going to will the competition. How do you handle this?

It turns out there are two key questions that will equip you to triple your success as a software engineer in Malta.

  1. Which local companies are the key players, and what industries do they operate in?
  2. What technologies and skillsets do they favour in their projects?

Being able to answer both gives you both a wide perspective of the context in which you operate as a professional as well as a depth of knowledge that enables you tackle any employer’s challenge. This makes you invaluable for businesses, which affect your long term salary curve, productivity and most importantly happiness doing what you love.  

Yet the entire opportunity landscape for the local professional software engineer is not very well documented, which means you have to make career decisions with a limited view of the landscape.  The only way to truly be equipped with these answer is through consistent industry networking, deep understanding of what employers want and what the trends in the market are...which as recruiters, we do all the time. In today’s article we tackle the first question.

You need to know your options so you can choose the optimal path for your software career. From our experience, it’s incredible how much the industries you choose to work in change how future employers look at your  working experience. For instance, some industries such as aviation are highly specialised, which means you will acquire skills that are less transferable to other employers on average.

By looking across the vacancies published by our clients on in the past 12 months,  career opportunities advertised on LinkedIn and the major news media  by employers, and speaking with our network of developers, it is possible to extract the local industries which tend to employ the most software developers and engineers. These are:

  1. iGaming / Betting. The industry provides ample opportunity for growth. New companies set up shop in Malta regularly and the established players tend to have large teams and high employee satisfaction, which translates into upward mobility. Companies in this industry are always looking for high quality engineering talent to tackle the challenges of running a worldwide operation.
  2. Web, Software & Application Development. Not every company has a team of internal engineers for its requirements and this is where this industry comes in. These companies offer a range of services to other businesses relating to  IT consulting, system architecture, building websites and applications. Working within such a company offers you the opportunity to tackle an incredible variety of projects as no client is the same, however be aware that most do not employ more than 40 employees which might limit your upward mobility.
  3. Public Sector  -  The public sector includes multiple ministries, institutions, government agencies, companies and other entities so it should be considered an industry in and of itself. For instance, MITA, the government IT agencies, employs over 350 people.
  4. Enterprise Solutions  -  These companies tend to make over a million in revenue. Their entire business model relies on building complex software solutions for international and large local clients, often within highly specialised verticals such as business intelligence or finance. Their very nature means that hiring good software engineers is critical for them, making them willing to offer a higher than average package, as well as the opportunity to take a critical role within or even leading teams if you quickly adapt to their demanding environment.
  5. Telecommunications - Malta is host to three large telecommunications companies, each serving tens of thousands of consumers and business clients. Smaller competitors are also making a dent in the market, particularly those tackling international problems. Keeping telecoms operations running is complex and good problem solving skills combined with breadth of technological knowhow are definitely required in this industry.
  6. Finance - A pillar of the strong Maltese economy, this includes multiple banks of various sizes, financial service providers, and a technology ecosystem to service their needs, such as companies specialising in fraud analysis, which are becoming more common. These types of organisations handle massive amounts of sensitive customer data and monetary transactions, and software engineers who understand the industry can be really successful.
  7. Technology Startups / SME - The area with the highest variation. The reality of the Maltese context is that there is a big portion of software engineering career options that are “hidden” within a large number of companies that employ less than 10 people. These are often highly specialised or are in their first few years, meaning you will probably be in a small team or even on your own. However, for ambitious people who want the opportunity to grow with a company, this could prove an ideal scenario.
  8. High Potential Industries:  There are technology-driven sectors that show a lot of promise in the coming years, such as Aviation, Health, eCommerce, and Tourism. While overall employment of software engineers might be currently less than, initiatives such as the Fusion programme by the Malta Council of Science and Technology and the availability of EU funds mean that they will develop quickly into hotbeds for software innovation in the coming years.  If you are looking for something more exciting than average, keep an eye on this sphere.

These are only the top industries ranked in terms of general volume of software engineering opportunities, and salaries and conditions play a crucial role in making career decisions. Indeed,  perceptions of the employer play a huge role on how happy you will be in a new position, so make sure that if you have an employer in mind, you speak to other people who work there or have worked there in the past.

We think it is crucial for all software developers to understand the market and what the potential is, so they can hone their skills appropriately. Next week, we tackle the second crucial question in your journey to become competitive: understanding specifically what employers need from your software engineering skills!

If you have any questions about the next step you should take, our team help you figure out who to talk to and how to make sure what they need. After all, who wants to waste time applying to irrelevant jobs?


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