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The Government, through the National Youth Policy Towards 2020: A Shared Vision for the Future of Young People, has proposed a commitment to a youth policy that is evidence-based and outcome-focused. Within this document, there is no explicit definition of evidence-based youth policy. However, priority is given to research as it believed that this provides all those working with and for young people with an invaluable tool and source of relevant and up-to-date information. In this regard, Aġenzija Żgħażagħ continuously monitors research reports concerning Maltese young people and also finances research itself so as to increase its evidence and knowledge base.
The research programme for the period 2015-20 targets the main areas that concern young people today, such as education (including the digital divide and skills gaps), employment, environment, rights and responsibilities (particularly the political participation of young people), health and well-being, and justice.
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. This was later developed into the Department of Youth and Community Studies and now it forms part of the 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 with the aim of contributing to the identification of efficiencies and lacunae in legislation and in the youth service and to challenge dominant discourse on youth.
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.
In 2018, Aġenzija Żgħażagħ commissioned another national youth research called “Mirrors and Windows 2” as part of a project called Polifest, co-financed through Erasmus+. This national research was specifically designed so as to gather an evidence-base on a number of major issues that would eventually facilitate the policymaking process.
Also, in 2018 Aġenzija Żgħażagħ formally acknowledged the collaboration with The University of Malta, through its Department of Youth and Community Studies, Faculty for Social Wellbeing by signing a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU). Both Parties agreed that all collaborative initiatives undertaken by them in the context of this MOU shall be guided by the aims and strategies of the National Youth Policy Towards 2020. Through this agreement, which is valid for three years, amongst other things it is intended to consolidate and increase collaboration in research. This in turn resulted in a study conducted by the Department of Youth and Community Studies. This research provisionally entitled “Insights on Modern Youth Activism: The Case of University of Malta Students” provides an insight on the prevalence of youth activism, as well as understanding factors that act as motivators or barriers for such involvement will be published in 2021.
As yet no evaluations were carried out through systematic reviews, randomized controlled trials.
National statistics are collected by the National Statistics Office. This office does not produce any documents specifically on young people. However, some of its documents do have sections relating to young people. In the Labour Market Statistics, the Registered Unemployed and the Unemployment Rate are issued monthly, the Labour Force Survey and the Registered Employment are issued quarterly, and Accidents at Work are issues every six months, all offer statistics on young people. As part of the Education and Information Society Statistics the Students Enrolment survey, the Graduate Student survey and the Absenteeism in Schools survey, which are issued yearly, also make reference to young people. Issued yearly as part of the Living Conditions and Cultural Statistics is the Statistics on Income and Living Conditions.
There is no regular youth report produced at a national level. However, Aġenzija Żgħażagħ in 2012 has produced the following research report on a national level 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 also the 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 keeping 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.
Also, Aġenzija Żgħażagħ has issued a number of national reports and survey, amongst which are the following:
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, as well as 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.
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.
Developing Detached Youth Work in Malta and Romania Published in 2016 this report was set about by the aspirations of the of 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".
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 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.
The latest 2 national youth research documents “Young People’s Perspectives on Housing” and “Youth Activism” will be published in 2021.
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, youth research as per Legal Notice 522/2010 is part of Aġenzija Żgħażagħ’s manadate as and in this regard, the agency always commits part of its annual budget to youth research.