Nearly half of young people in Malta would prefer to be self-employed, a recent survey shows.

When asked if they would prefer to be employed or self-employed, 49 per cent said they would prefer the latter, according to the results of a Eurobarometer study published this month.

This was eight percentage points higher than those who indicated they would prefer to be employed (41 per cent) and 10 percentage points higher than the European average. Eleven per cent indicated they didn’t know.

In the rest of Europe, 55 per cent of respondents said they would choose to work for an employer.

The independence of being one’s own boss, the freedom of where and when to work and the perception of better income opportunities were listed as the top three reasons for young people in Malta considering self-employment.

While 38 per cent listed better income prospects as one of the main drivers for self-employment generally, becoming wealthy was the third most important personal goal for respondents, with 34 per cent reporting it to be a main objective.

Being able to follow one’s passion was by far the most popular goal, with 63 per cent indicating it to be one of the most important things to strive for when being self-employed. This was 17 per cent higher than the European average and significantly higher than the opportunity to innovate (35 per cent).

Despite registering an above-average preference for being self-employed when compared to the rest of the EU, only 63 per cent of young people in Malta thought their peers were interested in starting their own business versus the European average of 68 per cent.

As of October, around 12 per cent of the workforce in Malta was self-employed, according to NSO data.

Company attitudes

Young people in Malta also placed significant importance on a prospective employer’s social and environmental aims, the study found.

When asked how much importance they placed on a company’s social goals, 35 per cent said it was very important and 50 per cent fairly important.

An employer’s environmental aims were also a deciding factor for many, with 38 per cent indicating it to be a very important goal and 45 per cent a fairly important one.

Despite social and environmental goals both being more important in Malta than the rest of Europe by 10 percentage points, respondents in Malta continued to place higher importance on traditional factors such as salary and career development.

While a company’s social and environmental goals were listed as ‘important’ to varying degrees by 85 and 83 per cent respectively, 97 per cent said it was important they offer a good salary and benefits.

Young people in Malta were the most concerned in the EU that a company respects a work-life balance, with 98 per cent listing it as important.

How financially stable a company is and how it supports individual career development were also important to young people, with 96 per cent saying these factors were important in each case.

The Eurobarometer study is held twice a year – between April and May and in the months of October and November – by the European Commission.

The survey is aimed at obtaining information about attitudes to political and social issues across the bloc.

Between October 10 and 20, 502 young people in Malta between the ages of 15 and 30 were interviewed online for the Social Entrepreneurship and Youth study.

A total of 25,992 citizens took part across the union’s 27 member states.

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