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EACEA National Policies Platform


1. Youth Policy Governance

1.6 Evidence-based youth policy

Last update: 25 March 2024
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  1. Political Commitment to Evidence-Based Youth Policy
  2. Cooperation between policy-making and research
  3. National Statistics and available data sources
  4. Budgetary Allocations supporting research in the youth field

Political Commitment to Evidence-Based Youth Policy

In 2010 the Government established Aġenzija Żgħażagħ, as the national agency in charge of youth affairs, through Legal Notice 5222/2010. The Legal Notice describes the functions and duties of this agency. One such function is the following: to undertake and co-ordinate research into specific issues aimed at assessing the state of play with respect to youth affairs.

In 2021, the Government, through the National Youth Policy Towards 2030: Reaching out to, working with, and supporting young people has proposed a commitment to a youth policy that is evidence-based and outcome-focused. In this regard, youth research was given priority and it has been elevated to one of the eight strategic goals of the policy. To this end, Strategic Goal 2 states: To conduct research on the lives of young people to ensure a knowledge-based policy approach.

Through this strategic goal there is a commitment to conduct and commission research, surveys, and knowledge building-particularly through the Mirrors and Windows reports - on the lives of young people and compile a report on the state of young people in Malta every 5 years; compile information on young people and youth-related issues for European and international reports including Youth Wiki and the European Knowledge Centre Reports for Youth Policy; develop a system to disseminate the research data collected to stakeholders involved in the areas researched; Ensure that in collecting and collating research data, gender and age disaggregated data is included;  Liaise with professional organisations and services to better understand the research needs relevant to understanding and improving the lives of vulnerable young people.

Cooperation between policy-making and research

In 1992, following an approach from the then Ministry of Youth and the Arts, the University of Malta set up an Institute of Youth Studies. This was later developed into a Programme within the Department of Educational Studies and then developed into the Department of Youth and Community Studies  within Faculty for Social Wellbeing. During this time, it has developed extensively both in vision and range of activities.

Today, the mission of the Department of Youth and Community Studies at the University of Malta is to carry out research within the areas of youth and community studies on its own and in collaboration with other interested bodies. It also engages in public debates on issues that concern young people through the organisation of conferences and fora to contribute to identifying efficiencies and lacunae in legislation and in the youth service and challenging dominant discourse on youth. 

In 2016 Aġenzija Żgħażagħ signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Department of Youth and Community Studies of the University of Malta. Through this MOU both parties agreed to collaborate in youth research. 

Through this collaboration in 2018 Voices of the young and vulnerable in Malta: a qualitative study was published. This study aimed to highlight the main challenges faced by vulnerable young people aged 17 – 28 in their families and their communities.

In 2020, Aġenzija Żgħażagħ and the Faculty of Social Well Being from the University of Malta published study entitled “Insights on modern youth activism”. The study aimed to provide insight into the prevalence of youth activism, as well as understand factors that act as motivations or barriers for such involvement.

Through the same MOU in 2022, Aġenzija Żgħażagħ, in collaboration with the University of Malta published “Examining the Effect of the Covid-19 Pandemic on Maltese Young People”. The study looked at the impact the pandemic had on young people in the areas of Education, Employment, Physical and Mental Health, Personal Life, and Social Relationships.

In 2023 the Aġenzija Żgħażagħ commissioned the Faculty of Social Well Being to research Financial literact among young people in Malta. The report has been finalised and will be published later in 2024.

National Statistics and available data sources

National statistics are collected by the National Statistics Office. This office does not produce any regular documents specifically on young people.

However, the National Statistics Office produced a number of adhoc reports, either focusing entirely on young people or young people were of primary concern.

In 2010 the National Statistics Office published Children. The data a covered demographics including births and deaths, childcare and education, child health, migration, poverty and children at risk

In 2016 NSO published Young people and the Labour Market. This publication presents a snapshot of youths aged between 15 to 34 years and identifies profiles by education, labour status and other social characteristics concerning youth.

In 2017 the NSO published Statistics on Pre-Primary, Primary and Secondary Formal Education 2012/2013 – 2016/2017This publication aims to gather information on the formal educational sector in Malta and Gozo over the five academic years 2012/2013 to 2016/2017. The statistics included focus on: Types of educational institutions, Student enrolments and Absences.

In 2018 The Cultural Participation Survey 2016 was, carried out as a collaboration between the National Statistics Office and the Valletta 2018 Foundation explores why people choose to participate – or not – in cultural activities by uncovering their attitudes, preferences and lifestyles. This data has also been used to profile audiences not only by demographic but also by psychographic (value-based) factor.

Also, the National Statistics Office issues regular data related to different themes where young people feature including: living conditions; the labour marketcultureeducationhealthtransport and population and housing.

The latest revision of the National Youth Policy: Towards 2030 states that a report on the state of young people in Malta will start to be compiled every 5 years in the form of Mirrors and Windows report.

The first Mirrors and Windows report was published in 2012 by Aġenzija Żgħażagħ entitled: Mirrors and Windows: Maltese Young People's Perception of Themselves, their Families, Communities and Society. This research aimed to construct social and cultural characteristics of young people, their views, opportunities and difficulties encountered.

This was then followed up in 2019 by Mirrors and Windows 2: Maltese Young People’s Perceptions, Experiences and Expectations of Education, Employment and Lifestyles. The agency is committing to keep issuing the Mirrors and Windows youth report generates an evidence-based picture of young people in Malta. The survey focused on young people’s experiences, expectations and views on education, employment, and lifestyles.

In 2023 Aġenzija Żgħażagħ published Mirrors and Windows 3: Maltese young people’s perception of themselves, their families, communities and society. Similar to previous editions this research aimed to construct social and cultural characteristics of young people, their views, opportunities and also the challenges encountered highlighting in particular their personal and social development, their relationships including familial ones, their health and well-being as well as community and environment. 

Also, Aġenzija Żgħażagħ has issued a number of national reports and surveys, amongst which are the following:

The Participation of Maltese Young People in the Voluntary Sector. This report unearths the level of participation and contribution of Maltese youth in voluntary work both in Malta and abroad.

Leisure Trends among Young People in Malta. This report, issued in 2013, presents the most common types of leisure activities older children and young people engage in and the amount of time they spend on such activities. The study also identifies barriers that hinder wider participation in leisure activities and how the issue of greater accessibility could be addressed.

Democratic Participation – Having your voice heard in Europe- through the ballot box. This survey was issued in 2014 and it looked into young people’s views on the electoral process and the European Parliament intending to promote European citizenship and strengthen the information and knowledge base of young people in Malta through their active engagement and participation in the democratic process.

Democratic Participation – Listening to the voices of young people. This survey was published in 2014 asking for young people’s opinions in relation to lowering the voting age in local elections and other matters relating to electoral change and democratic participation.

Developing Detached Youth Work in Malta and Romania Published in 2016 this report was set about by the aspirations of the Aġenzija Żgħażagħ, which initiated and coordinated a project to expand and strengthen the services it provides for young people in Malta, while also fulfilling a commitment in the national youth policy, “Towards 2020 - A shared vision for the future of young people” to provide "outreach and detached youth work services to address, in particular, the needs of socially excluded and at-risk young people".

In 2017, Aġenzija Żgħażagħ commissioned a national youth research, focusing on the participation of young people in society, in particular, the Structured Dialogue aptly entitled “Survey Among Young People on the Structured Dialogue.”  With this research, the agency now has a clear understanding of what political participation means for young people in Malta and how young Maltese people would like to be involved in the Structured Dialogue in the future.

The Voices of The Young and Vulnerable in Malta: A Qualitative Study. This report was commissioned by Aġenzija Żgħażagħ and issued in 2018. The study highlights the main challenges that vulnerable young people, between 17 – 28 have to face in the course of family and community life as well as in accessing welfare and other state and voluntary support systems.

In 2019 Aġenzija Żgħażagħ, in collaboration with the National Youth Council and commissioned a research entitled “Young people’s Views on the use of cannabis”, looked into young people’s views on the recreational use of cannabis. This was done in view of the public debate that was happening on a national level involving the idea of decriminalising cannabis consumption.

In 2019 Aġenzija Żgħażagħ in collaboration with YMCA College London, published Step Back and Make Room. This study looked at the role of youth work in formal education settings.

In 2021, Aġenzija Żgħażagħ, the National Youth Agency in collaboration with the National Youth Council commissioned a research entitled “Analysing youth perceptions on house arrangements”. The objectives of the research were to gain insight into the challenges faced by young people in order to meet their housing needs and understand the current housing arrangements and potential challenges perceived.

In 2022, Aġenzija Żgħażagħ also published a research entitled Being young in Malta. The research looked into the Personal, Social and Political Development of young Maltese people between the aged of 16 and 30.

In 2022, Aġenzija Żgħażagħ, the National Youth Agency in collaboration with the National Youth Council commissioned a research entitled Analysing Young People’s Perceptions on Sexual Health focusing on Sex education; Sexual Health Services and Access to products related to Sexual Health.

In 2024 Aġenzija Żgħażagħ together with the National; Youth Council commissioned a survey entitled Life Skills through Non-Formal Education. The report will be published later in 2024.

Aġenzija Żgħażagħ also published a number of reports that generate knowledge on young people.

In 2022 Aġenzija Żgħażagħ published a report entitled Good Practices in Youth Organisations. The purpose of this report was twofold. First, it gave an overview and examples of how voluntary youth organisations have used the support funding they were allocated over the period of 10 years by Aġenzija Żgħażagħ. Second, the projects selected are practical examples of good organisational practices.

In 2021 European Solidarity: A Closer Look gives a practical expression to the values and ideals of solidarity. The report gives ideas to youth organisations on what is solidarity and how to access funds for solidarity projects

In 2021 published A tracer study. This report on enquire what young participants is a youth work programme rooted in non-formal educational. It is administered and facilitated by youth workers from Aġenzija Żgħażagħ. The aim of the programme is to guide young people aged between 16 to 21 years to develop in a holistic way.

Budgetary Allocations supporting research in the youth field

The Government has no line of funding for research on youth explicitly supporting evidence-based youth policy-making or evidence-based evaluation of its youth-related programs or of policy outcomes. However, since youth research as per Legal Notice 522/2010 is part of Aġenzija Żgħażagħ’s mandate and youth research is also a strategic goal in the National Youth Policy, the Aġenzija Żgħażagħ always commits part of its annual budget to youth research.