The government’s unwavering commitment to the youth sector stems from our solid conviction that young people constitute a major asset for our country.

According to recent European Union statistics, Malta ranks fifth with 8.8 per cent in terms of unemployed and out-of-school youths, meaning that we share the same position as Germany and Austria.

Such favourable outcome is undoubtedly attributed to the intensive work carried out by the government and the plethora of new opportunities that continue to be offered to our younger population.

One of the initiatives the sector has embarked on is the ‘Get Into’ project, a collaboration between Aġenzija Żgħażagħ, the HSBC Foundation, MEDE and the Prince’s Trust International (PTI).

A large number of young people availed themselves of various pilot programmes and specialised training sessions by professional youth workers, aimed to instill employability skills among a specific youth group. This initiative is complemented by another commendable scheme going by the name of ‘Youth.Inc’, which is intended to offer a wide range of basic and social skills to those whose academic qualifications are considered scant.

Very soon, Aġenzija Żgħażagħ and EUPA, through a concerted effort, shall also be promoting the new European Solidarity Corps initiative, a platform promoting voluntary work experience both locally and abroad. Another noteworthy scheme is the environment-friendly approach towards more frequent usage of public transport by young people.

This comes in the form of free commuting up to a maximum of €312 a year.

Creativity fares high on our agenda and we strive to create new opportunities for young people to share their creative flare and engage in high-quality artistic endeavours. Artivisti is one such outlet in collaboration with Arts Council Malta.

Another exciting opportunity for up-and-coming film-makers is the newly launched Youth Film Festival in collaboration with the Malta Short Film Festival.

Young people are brimming with energy and ideas and it is our prerogative to provide them with the appropriate channels

Furthermore, following the previous editions of Divergent Thinkers and in light of Valletta 2018, soon we are going to present the largest platform so far for creative youths in the visual arts.

We are strengthening other aspects of the creative sector by investing in schemes whereby youths may engage in music activities at local band clubs. Artists who would be aspiring for a professional career in music or singing may avail themselves of free management coaching, opportunities to perform and be eligible for up to €1,000 in professional production expenses.

Other initiatives to foster creative and literary skills at Aġenzija Żgħażagħ’s Youth Village include Taħżiż and Taf x’naf.

Young people need to be empowered and encouraged to become active citizens.

The government set as one of its goals the right for 16-year-olds to vote at a general election. Vot 16, along with local youth councils, promote young people’s responsible political engagement and this is further complemented by the Model European Parliament and the Parlament taż-Żgħażagħ, where young people are given the opportunity to have their say in local European legislation.

Young people are brimming with energy and ideas and it is our prerogative to provide them with the appropriate channels and to support their aspirations.

We are offering study loan schemes and awards to encourage youths to start up a commercial enterprise. We are investing in ‘Detached work’ whereby a number of youth workers will be dispatched directly where young people mingle, such as at youth hubs and cafes.

The personal and social well-being of our younger generation is a top priority and to this effect we have launched a service for youths at risk.

The European Union presidency’s legacy translated into projects intended for the personal and social development of youth and to instil values of solidarity and voluntary work. It is fitting to mention also opportunities within the Commonwealth and Malta’s excellent track record in regard to services earmarked for young people.

The list is not complete as there are many other initiatives I have not discussed.

Others are still in the pipeline.

We keep strengthening our commitment towards our younger generations and we strive for more excellent results in this important sector of our population.

Clifton Grima is Parliamentary Secretary for Youth, Sport and Voluntary Organisations.

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