For several years I worked with new brands and foundations in the start-up space. That position always presented me with a small challenge when I introduced myself, as there would be those odd moments where I would need to explain the name of the organisation or what we did.

When I moved to JAYE Malta Foundation I thought that I would no longer have that problem; however, little did I know that, a few months after joining the organisation, the global and European counterparts – JA Worldwide and JA Europe – would be rebranding, and that we in Malta would be taking this opportunity to align ourselves with the global brand and dropping the well-known ‘YE’ of Young Enterprise.

So, here we are, rebranded as JA Malta – without the familiar YE part. New beginnings bring about new opportunities, and, being entrepreneurial by nature (both from a personal perspective and also as an organisation), we see this change as the ideal opening to move away from the classical and old label of ‘Young Enterprise – the 6th Form programme’, that we have been boxed into for so many years – because we are much more than that.

At JA Malta, we work on three main pillars: entrepreneurship, financial capability, and work readiness. We deliver several programmes of different lengths, styles and content that apply to people aged from 7 to 30. We are currently also running a financial capability project that is intended for adults of any age.

One feature that all these programmes have in common is the experiential learning style that is synonymous with JA. The ‘learning by doing’ principle remains key to our work. We promote self-efficacy amongst our youth, which we believe is a core competence for life and for entrepreneurship. 

What’s important to highlight is that when we deal with entrepreneurship, we are referring to the mindset. An enterprising mindset does not limit itself to the opening of a business; it’s an outlook of always being analytical, critical, and problem-solving. Whether as a business owner or as an employee, we need to constantly analyse our environment, to see what can be improved, and then take the initiative to improve them. It is about having a creative and critical mentality to challenge the status quo if it needs improving and not being scared to take action.

To achieve this mindset, our Work Readiness pillar helps our youth to transition from academia to the workplace as smoothly as possible. We all agree that the gap between the academic system and the workplace is sizeable and requires quite a leap – we aim to make that leap smaller. Through internships and initiatives like ‘Leaders for a Day’, where students shadow top executives for a day at their workplace, we bridge the educational life to work life gap, exposing youth to real work environments and new jobs and careers.

Through our Financial Literacy programme, we offer hands-on experience and content by teaching the basics of this topic, such as the difference between needs and wants, debit and credit accounts, as well as budgeting, cash flow, and pensions.

Lastly, but certainly not least, the third pillar is Entrepreneurship where we continue to offer the hands-on experience of the Young Enterprise Company Programme to 16-18 year-olds; however, we also offer a start-up programme, sessions and challenges to an older cohort.

We aim to expand our work with a pre-accelerator programme for adults and other initiatives for younger age groups, to complement the theoretical schooling system with a more hands-on approach and practical experiences that will introduce students to teamwork, decision making, creativity, critical thinking, public speaking and other important life skills.

My message to all schools, parents, students, and corporate and executive heads is that if any of the above sounds interesting, do get in touch so that we can start a conversation on how our programmes can benefit your entity. While we often work through schools and partners to bring industry into the classrooms, we also offer programmes outside of regular school hours.

Through a common vision and goal, together we can collaborate and deliver more to our youth.

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