On employment, the PN plays a numbers game

The PN leader’s claims are pure mathematical miscalculation. Eurostat figures show that the unemployment rate among youths has gone down to 3.9% in 2013 from 4.1% in 2012.

This government believes that action is the foundation to all success. We have taken the necessary action to help students achieve throughout their schooling. This summer, students who have failed in their examinations, as well as those who have obtained a grade 6 or worse, will be given free tuition to help them succeed in their resits in September.

These free revision classes will be offered in Maltese, English, Mathematics and Physics. Similar revision classes will also be offered to students at MCAST who would have failed their foundation course this year. These students will be given this opportunity to ensure that they would not have lost a year. To further emphasise the Youth Guarantee scheme, we will also extend the Alternative Learning Programme throughout summer.

For many years I have spoken about the need to address the problems associated with those youths between the ages of 16 and 25, who are not in employment, education or training. We pledged to start tackling this problem in our election manifesto and ever since being entrusted with the Ministry for Education, I have been pushing hard to start putting plans into action. Earlier this week, during a conference on the Youth Guarantee scheme, we announced these initiatives, which we will implement with immediate effect.

The government is offering these initiatives with the help of EU funding. The cost of this exercise is around Euro 2.7 million but the most important thing is that around 2000 young people will reap the benefits of the Youth Guarantee scheme.

We have worked hard at the ministry to achieve such goals. We did not wait for these actions to materialise – we set out to make them happen. We have also obtained an unprecedented response with the introduction of childcare centres. The Breakfast Club has proven to be very popular and we have ensured that this year, ‘Skolasajf’ will be held over a longer period and at a cheaper price.

At the beginning of this year, the Education Ministry launched a pilot project on Alternative Learning Programmes. This was targeted at Form 5 students who would not be sitting for any SEC exams at the end of this scholastic year. 200 students took up this opportunity and this project was successful for the students and an important eye-opener for the ministry. This pilot project helped us plan further training opportunities for these students and will also serve to provide students with improved employability skills for meaningful employment in the current job market.

The PN has tried to pour cold water on the results of these initiatives. The leader of the Opposition claims that the number of youths not in education, in training or in employment has increased by around 1,000 this past year. His statistics are reminiscent of his predecessor’s figures on employment during the last election campaign.

The PN was wrong then and it is also factually wrong now. In fact labour force survey figures published by Eurostat, show that employment among youngsters between the ages of 15 and 24, was down from 26,500 in 2008 to around 24,800 in 2012. The Labour government has managed to halt this slide and figures have remained stable during the course of this year. Furthermore, unemployment figures among youth, as quoted by Eurostat, have gone down from 14.2% in 2012 to 13.5% this past year.

On employment figures, the Opposition continues to play the numbers game. The PN leader’s claims are pure mathematical miscalculation. Again, Eurostat figures show that the unemployment rate among youths has gone down to 3.9% in 2013 from 4.1% in 2012.

My government is focusing on different figures. Yes we have achieved, but we know that we still have a long way to go. This is why we are addressing the problems at a very early age. We believe that there is an ever-tightening bond between education and employment. We have and will continue to strengthen childcare, kinder and primary schools for our children.

We will ensure that middle schools, co-educational schools, SEC, Alternative Learning programmes and vocational training will all contribute to the general education of students in Malta and Gozo. Through our Youth Guarantee Programme, we will support students in all that they require in preparation for their careers and then we would be in a position to reward achievement and success.

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