[WATCH] €2 million Youth Guarantee programme launched

Malta facing challenge of young persons who enter employment at an early stage, education minister Evarist Bartolo says.

Education minister Evarist Bartolo (Photo & Video: Ray Attard/ MediaToday)
Education minister Evarist Bartolo (Photo & Video: Ray Attard/ MediaToday)

The government has submitted its plans on the Youth Guarantee, Education minister Evarist Bartolo said today. The plans were submitted last week to the European Commission.

Denying accusations by the opposition that the plans were submitted late, Bartolo explained that the December deadline applied to countries where youth unemployment reached 25% but other countries had to submit it by Springtime.

"While other countries have a problem with very high youth unemployment levels, Malta faces a challenge to encourage youths to further their studies."

The minister explained that Malta has one of the highest rate of early school leavers, persons under 29 years of age with a lack of skills and young persons who enter employment too early.

The youth guarantee is set to be introduced this year in a bid to assist youths who are no longer in education and who can receive training to find work.

Although youth unemployment in Malta is nowhere near EU, in its 2014 Budget, the government said it would still provide "individual attention" for 350 youths who are inactive or seeking jobs, so that they can continue studying or training for work. They will be paid €1,440 in the form of an educational investment, to a total cost of €2 million.

In a press conference addressed by Bartolo and the two parliamentary secretaries Stefan Bountempo and Ian Borg, the minister said that although Malta has a low level of youth unemployment, the country has "nothing to boast about" the high levels of young persons who enter the labour market too early, without the necessary skills.  

The rate of youth unemployment in Malta stands at 11.6%, meaning the country is among the best five performers in the EU28, where 5.6 million young people are unemployed.

Bartolo added that the aim of the programme is to encourage young people to enter employment, training or education.

"This programme which will come at end in December is not a stand alone. We have introduced other initiatives such as the tapering of social benefits, the youth entrepreneurship programme and the programme aimed at students who did not sit for their SEC exams," Bartolo said.

Following the December 2014 deadline for the youth guarantee programme, other cycles will be launched.

The chairperson of jobsplus Clyde Caruana said that 26% of young people out of work, training or unemployment were single parents, 10% were disabled persons and 9% Were on unemployment benefits.

He added that while a further 9% were registered as unemployed but received no benefits, the majority of young persons out of work, training or unemployment were not officially listed as unemployed.

Parliamentary secretary Stefan Buontempo said the initiative ensures greater coordination between formal education and achieving soft skills.

Ian Borg said that the government was among the first to make use of the european social fund and allotted €2 million in unused funds for the programme which will benefit up to 350 persons.