Strategies for overcoming STEM recruitment challenges in Cyprus

By Andrea Pishofta
HR Function, CMMI

Working as an HR professional for a research organisation in Cyprus, I am aware of the challenges we have in filling Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) positions. In Cyprus, we face a unique set of difficulties, such as a severe shortage of skilled labour, worries about diversity, constraints within the educational system, drawn-out work permit procedures, and above all, the challenge of offering competitive remuneration when compared to other EU member states.

Talent Shortage and Skills Gap: Fast technological changes have made the skills gap bigger, between what businesses desire and what is available in the labour market. We are always competing for the best individuals to improve our technology and digital capabilities.
Diversity Challenges: Not enough women work in STEM in Cyprus, showing we need more diversity and highlighting the need for targeted initiatives to boost the proportion of women employed in these fields.
Educational System Limitations: Our schools have a hard time keeping students interested in STEM, leading to fewer students graduating and more dropping out. The problem is made worse by the fact that students are not fully aware of the linkages between these fields and their desired future careers, leading to a lack of motivation and interest in STEM subjects.
Work Permit and Compensation Issues: It takes too long to get work permits, and the remuneration in Cyprus is often less than in other EU countries, making it hard to attract international workers. 
Brain Drain: Many skilled workers are leaving Cyprus to find better jobs or lifestyles in other countries. It's like when a team loses its best players to other teams, making it harder to win.

To address these challenges, we propose several strategies, viewing them through the unique demands of the STEM sectors in Cyprus:
Invest in Research and Development: Elevate R&D funding to foster innovation, making Cyprus an attractive location for cutting-edge STEM research.
Strengthen Industry-Academia Partnerships: Align educational programmes with industry needs, ensuring students are job-ready upon graduation.
Develop Apprenticeship and Internship Programs: Offer a practical experience that adheres to fairness and diversity, preparing students for real-world challenges.
Implement Inclusive Recruitment Campaigns: Actively promote diversity within STEM roles and advertise job postings globally.
Streamline Work Permit Processes: Collaborate with governmental bodies to make the permit process more efficient and transparent.
Ensure Competitive Remuneration Packages: Although we can't always match salary offered in other EU countries, we should focus on providing comprehensive benefits and highlighting the lifestyle and community advantages of living in Cyprus.

In summary, to solve the STEM job challenges in Cyprus, we need a well-thought-out plan. By working closely with academia, research organisations and businesses, creating special training programs, and making sure job offers are fair and inviting to everyone, we can gather a strong and varied group of skilled people. Focusing on real-work experience, equal chances, and making Cyprus welcoming for talent will help us not just fix today's problems but also make Cyprus a top place for science and tech work in the future.

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