10.3 Support to youth work
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Since 2015 Youth Work in Malta is a regulated profession through the enactment of the Youth Work Profession Act. The act formalised an understanding of youth work that had been developing throughout years of practice. Youth work in Malta aims to provide for the holistic development of young people in their transition into adulthood. Youth work has always been envisaged as out of school, non-formal education for young people focusing mainly on their personal, social and political development. This understanding was incorporated in the Youth Work Profession Act, which states that youth work in Malta is a non-formal learning activity aimed at the personal, social and political development of young people. In this context, the law also states that youth workers engage with young people within their communities, including the voluntary sector and support them in realising their potential and address life’s challenges critically and creatively to bring about social change. In this regard, youth workers work with and for young people to facilitate their life transitions
Another very important element of youth work as understood within the Maltese context is Youth Information. This has been a well pronounced since the first youth policy document in 1993. This understanding revolves around the notion that quality and reliable youth information is also essential to help young people develop into critics of their environment and to reach their full potential.
This understanding of youth work is expressed through the implementation of the National Youth Policy Towards 2030: Reaching out to, working with, and supporting young people. The implementation of the policy rests on 8 strategic goals. 2 of the strategic goals impact directly on the development of youth work.
The first strategic goal is: To further enhance and develop effective youth work practice. The second strategic goal is: To listen and support the voices of young people and raise awareness among young people of issues that impact on their everyday lives and provide youth information.
With regards to youth work the policy calls for actions that:
- Engage and work with the Youth Work Profession Board and the voluntary youth sector in facilitating effective youth work and professional practice nationally.
- Implement a programme of reflective and supervised practice with a view to promoting and developing learning organisations and enhancing professional youth work.
- Provide further education and training opportunities for youth workers and staff in Aġenzija Żgħażagħ to ensure effective youth work and professional practice in delivering programmes and services for young people.
- Develop and implement a data-based system for monitoring the nature, extent, level and frequency of young people's participation in services, programmes and initiatives provided by Aġenzija Żgħażagħ and voluntary youth organisations.
- Map tools and good practices for better recognition of youth work and non-formal learning.
- Develop and promote the Youth Village as an incubator of quality youth work through provision of youth work training to voluntary youth workers and youth leaders.
When it comes to youth information the policy calls for actions that:
- Support and promote the voices of young people and provide them with opportunities to express their views, concerns and aspirations at local, national and European level through initiatives such as the EU Youth Dialogue.
- Promote the involvement of youth in envisioning national policies, plans and programmes and in decision making.
- Engage the National Youth Council to liase and consult Agenzija zghazagh in supporting the aims and implementation of the national Youth Policy.
- Develop and promote campaigns to raise awarness on important issues and causes.
- Maintain and further develop Aġenzija Żgħażagħ's social media portals (Facebook and Instagram) and give users real-time access to Youth Information Officers operating from the Youth Information One-Stop- Shop (YIOSS).
- Raise awareness among young people of learning mobility.
- Promote and expand use of the EYCA Card - Karta Żgħażagħ.
- Continue to develop and support initiatives that provide on-line supports for vulnerable young people.
Most of the youth work programmes pertain to the domains of extra-curricular non-formal education focusing on areas of inclusion, mobility, participation, empowerment and information. Such programmes focus on civic and political education and can include within them professional (paid) and voluntary activities and entail educational activities such as civic and political education programmes, recreational and volunteering activities.
Since youth work is a regulated profession any person or organisation who is in possession of a youth work warrant can provide youth work services in Malta. The main youth work provider is the State in particular through Aġenzija Żgħażagħ – the National Youth Agency – as well as youth organisations and other faith-based organisations. There are other state agencies such as Foundation for Social Welfare Services that employ youth workers, however, the service provided from these agencies is primarily focused on social work.
As stated in the Youth Work Profession Act, youth work should take into account all strands of diversity and as such focus on all young people between thirteen (13) to thirty (30) years of age.
Moreover, the National Youth Policy Towards 2030: Reaching out to, working with, and supporting young people indicates that location, environment, ethnicity, gender, socio-economic background, religious beliefs, cultural background and sexual orientation are some of the characteristics that differentiate young people. Consequently, young people require supports and different resources based on their differing characteristics, aspirations and needs.
The main National funding for youth work is provided by the State, through Aġenzija Żgħażagħ. In this regard, the total budget for 2021 is that of €1,330,000.
Youth work organisations that would want to benefit from public funding need to be registered with the Office of the Commissioner for Voluntary Organisations. In the case of public funding from Aġenzija Żgħażagħ, the youth work providers need to be registered also with Aġenzija Żgħażagħ.
When it comes to EU funding the main source of funding is the Youth Programme within the Erasmus + funding programme as well as the European Solidarity Corps.
Aġenzija Żgħażagħ has a number of projects through which the agency compliments to the implementation of these initiatives by providing its youth work expertise. These include the following:
Cooperation with public services dedicated to young people
Aġenzija Żgħażagħ has projects with the main public service entities providing education, social work and culture. Within the education sector the agency has a collaboration with the Directorate for Educational Services and provides youth work sessions during European Studies; Social Studies and Personal Social and Cultural Development lessons. The agency also facilitates the Student Council Democracy Awards in secondary and post-secondary schools. It also has a youth worker providing services in a number of post-secondary institutions such as MCAST; Giovanni Curmi Higher Secondary School and Sir Michelangelo Refalo Sixth Form. Within social work services, the agency has a collaboration with Agenzija Support through a programme entitled S.A.F.E.R. The agency also collaborates with the Community Services by providing youth work sessions to young people following the Community Services programmes.
Youth work services are also provided to cultural endeavours in particular through collaborations with Spazju Kreattiv on projects such as Song Craft and Arts Council through projects such as Artivisti.
Cooperation with Civil society active in the field of youth work
Aġenzija Żgħażagħ has an MOU with ZAK Youth Catholic Action through which they operate a number of youth cafes, the agency offers professional youth work services within these youth cafes. The agency also collaborate with the National Youth Council on various issues affecting the well-being of young people.
Cooperation with research and experts in the youth field
Through an MOU with the University of Malta, the Aġenzija Żgħażagħ provides fieldwork placement opportunities for the student following their studies with the Department of Youth and Community Studies. This allows prospective youth workers to have first-hand experience of the word of youth work.