4.7 Youth work to foster social inclusion
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The main policy framework designed for youth work to foster social inclusion is the National Youth Policy Towards 2020. This document sets two main strategies. One of these strategies is Youth Work and Services for Young People. The Ministry for Inclusion and Quality of Life and the Parliamentary Secretary for Sports, Recreation and Voluntary Organisations have over-arching responsibility for implementing this strategy. Aġenzija Żgħażagħ is responsible for strategic planning and day-to-day operational matters in implementing the strategy. The focus of this strategy is on supporting the personal development and well-being of young people through projects, initiatives, and activities based on youth work and non-formal education.
There are eight main youth work programmes delivered towards vulnerable young people. These are the Youth.Inc Programme, Youth Cafes, Youth Café for young people with down syndrome, Youth Café for young LGBTI+, Detached Youth Work Programme, Youth Work in Youth Hubs, Youth Work Programmes in Schools, and Intercultural Week for young people.
The Youth.Inc Programme targets young people between 16 and 21 years old and not in Education Employment or Training. The programme is designed in a way to up-skill young people to facilitate their engagement in further education, training or employment. The Youth.Inc Programme has an annual budget of €400,000.
Youth Cafes cater mainly for young people between 14 and 20 years of age and at risk of poverty. The programme strives to create inclusive and tolerant spaces in the heart of the community. The Youth Café Programme has an annual budget of €30,000.
The Detached Youth Work Programme targets young people between 15 and 25 years of age at risk of social exclusion. The Detached Youth Work Programme has an annual budget of €30,000.
The Youth Work in Youth Hubs programme targets post-secondary students aged between 16 and 20 years of age who are attending Foundation Classes (MQF Levels 1 and 2) and the Pathway to Independence Programme, a programme designed to give life skills to young people with different learning difficulties. The Youth Hubs Programme has an annual budget of €150,000.
The Youth Work in Schools programme targets 13 to 16 year old students with challenging behaviour. The Youth Work in Schools has an annual budget of €120,000.
Young people who participate in these programmes do not have direct involvement in the design and delivery of these programmes.
Youth.Inc Programme can be cited as an example of good practice in existing cooperation between youth workers, teachers, and trainers. Youth.inc is an inclusive education programme, based on applied learning, for young people between the ages of 16 and 21 years old. These young people have completed full-time compulsory education, often without qualifications, and were not in education, training or employment before entering the programme. The aim of the programme is to help young people to improve their standard of education and gain more knowledge, values and skills to enable them to enter the labour market or gain qualifications to continue in further education and/or training.
The number of course options available to young people at Youth.inc is quite broad. While core curriculum subjects such as English, Maltese and Applied Maths and Basic IT Skills remain in place, along with the development of core competences, there is a range of optional courses for young people including animal care, auto electric, beauty care, cooking, fretwork, electronics, entrepreneurship, hairdressing, social care, home cooking, cake decoration, nutrition and health, building and construction, fashion design, music production, photography, web design, upholstery, art, customer care and sales techniques.
With this wide range of course options being delivered by outside professionals/practitioners and a more personalised and individualised learning programme, the youth worker has become a go-between, facilitator, mediator and negotiator between young people seeking knowledge and professionals/practitioners who have such knowledge. The focus of the youth worker’s work is on building supportive relationships between these two parties, engaging with them to help young people discover their strengths and weaknesses and encouraging them to map and pursue future career and learning paths. The youth worker role within Youth.inc exists in the demanding, difficult and often unchartered landscape between young people, often socially and economically excluded, at risk, with poor levels of educational attainment, and the realities, demands, disciplines and responsibilities of the world of education, training and work.
In 2021 Agenzija Zghazagh celebrated its annual Intercultural Week between the 17th and 23rd May coinciding with the World Day for Cultural Diversity on the 21st May. Agenzija Zghazagh joined the celebrations through a special edition of Roots and Routes. A new episode, intending to establish and enhance connections with young foreigners living in Malta while encouraging young people living in Malta to engage with narratives of young migrants thereby encouraging a broad understanding of identity, nationality, migration and global mobility was launched daily during the Intercultural Week. This podast cultivates a platform which supports an increased openness to migration and which promote solutions to issues arising from integration,
In 2020 the Intercultural Week celebrating World Day for Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development was held online between the 8th and the 15th June 2020 . The intitative followed on previous events, including the previous year’s Intercultural event held at the Youth Village in Sta Venera as part of the Polifest project. The aim of the initiative was to set up a space for conversations between local youth organisations and different foreign communities living in Malta, in a concerted effort to bridge the gap, and facilitate social cohesion through dialogue. Aġenzija Żgħażagħ set up a series of online events to celebrate the World Day for Cultural Diversity for Dialogue and Development.
Agenzija Zghazagh in collaboration with the Down Syndrome Association also started providing a Youth Café service once a week in the Youth Village in St Venera. The young people attending work with the youth workers present to organise a number of events and activities.
Agenzija Zghazagh also collaborated with LGBTI+ Gozo and MGRM`s Rainbow Youth Support Service to run a youth hub service at the Youth Village. Young LGBTI+ people meet up with a youth worker in the youth hub for a youth work or youth information session twice a month in Malta and in Gozo
There are no other Youth Work providers. The main Youth Work programmes are all provided by the State.
Youth Workers are offered three courses at the University of Malta. Two of these are provided by the Faculty of Social Well-being through the Department of Youth and Community Studies. Another one is provided by the Faculty of Theology in collaboration with the Department of Youth and Community Studies and Diocesan Youth Commission.
The Faculty of Social Well-being offers a Bachelor of Arts (Honours) in Youth and Community Studies. The course is offered both on a three-year full-time programme or a five-year part-time programme. This faculty also offers a Master of Arts in Youth and Community Studies through a three-year part-time programme. The Faculty of Theology in collaboration with the Department of Youth and Community Studies and Diocesan Youth Commission offers a Master of Arts in Youth Ministry through a three year part-time programme.
All of these three courses the Bachelor and the Masters programmes lay the foundation for any prospective youth worker to continue on the path to becoming a professional youth work. Upon termination of any of these 3 courses, the prospective youth worker must undergo a further 2 years on the job practice to finally apply for a professional warrant.
The University of Malta offers 2 more programmes with a specific focus on young people: A Masters of Arts in Youth Justice, which is mainly a research-based part time programme over five semesters and a Masters of Art in Community Action and Development offered over a three-year part time programme are delivered by the Faculty of Social Wellbeing. Students following these two programmes can enrol themselves in a number of youth service provision job opportunity related to young people, however they cannot apply for a youth work warrant.
Aġenzija Żgħażagħ, the national youth agency, acts as a youth work foundation. Agenzija Zghazagh signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the University of Malta. In this MOU the agency agreed to promote and resource youth workers in supervision skills and students following the above-mentioned courses can have their fieldwork placements, which is the practicum component of these courses, with professional youth workers at the agency. The agency also provides for an annual training programme for its youth workers in the form of Continuous Professional Development. Such training is offered to each youth worker as per their individual role within the agency.
There are no other publicly funded programmes.
Four of the main inclusive Youth work programmes in Malta fall under the direct responsibility of Aġenzija Żgħażagħ, the National Youth Agency. The other, that is, the Youth Work Programme in Schools, falls under the responsibility of the Student Services Department within the Ministry for Education and Employment. The law that established the agency states that the agency has the responsibility to ensure the highest standard of Youth Work in Malta. The Agency was set up under the Public Administration Act, Article 36. There are a number of Key Performance indicators to ensure quality in the delivery of programmes including the actual number of young people participating in the programmes and the number of tailor made programmes and initiatives targeting young people. The Chief Executive of the agency is liable for these Key Performance indicators.