MALTA: Learning Social Entrepreneurship to Combat Youth Unemployment
(MissionNewswire) According to UNICEF, despite the wealth associated with many countries in the European Union, close to 16 percent of its population live in poverty. Children are more vulnerable with child poverty rates more than 19 percent, resulting in close to 30 million children living in poverty across 35 developed countries.
Youth at risk of poverty or social exclusion are typically found in single parent families, large families and immigrant and ethnic minority families. With almost 10 percent unemployment, often spanning generations, youth with unemployed or underemployed parents also face a higher risk of poverty.
In addition, almost 15 percent of youth leave school without achieving a secondary education.
These conditions give rise to a staggering youth unemployment rate which is about twice the average when compared to the general population. Almost one fourth of youth are unemployed and face daily struggles to find employment and earn a livable wage.
To combat these challenges, the Salesians held a seven day training course called, “Transforming Voluntarism into Social Entrepreneurship” in early April at the Salesian Youth Center in Sliema, Malta. The course was funded by the European Commission and utilized project management within “Youth in Action” programs as a tool for developing entrepreneurial competence.
Designed and organized by Don Bosco Youth Net, the training program aims to motivate young volunteers to take the initiative to develop solutions for problems faced by young people across the European Union today.
“Salesians are working across the European Union to help youth find their own path out of poverty,” says Father Mark Hyde, executive director of Salesian Missions, the U.S. development arm of the Salesians of Don Bosco. “Youth need the tools, the education and support to help them on a path to a productive life. Courses like this help propel youth in the right direction, encouraging them to take responsibility for their lives and their futures.”
Twenty youth representing Austria, Belgium, Germany, Slovenia, Poland, Spain, Malta, the UK, Czech Republic and Italy took part in the training course. Learning the differences between voluntarism, social entrepreneurship and entrepreneurship through role playing, presentations and active work, the students learned how to turn ideas and concepts into action.
Each session combined elements of theoretical and practical work and challenged youth to utilize both personal and team skills to develop their abilities to plan and manage projects in order to achieve social objectives. Youth were challenged to design an innovative product to fit the needs of people in modern times.
Ideas ranged from arranging a festival to building a hostel. The students learned how to create a project based on ideas that had been collected. Then they explored how to finance their project and apply for funding from the European Union. Students received feedback from experts and their peers as they discussed their ideas for implementation.
“Sometimes jobs just aren’t available for youth”, adds Fr. Hyde. “The program’s overall focus on social entrepreneurship helps youth create their own opportunities in their local communities.”