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All My Friends Want To Leave The Country – But Maybe That’s Not A Bad Thing

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Since the publishing of EY’s recent survey, Malta has been reeling from the news that 70% of youths want to eventually leave the country. 

People seem to have different reasons for this, with the main ones seeming to be the degradation of Malta’s natural environment and the psychological effects this continues to impose on residents. 

Some have viewed this fact more from a negative perspective than a positive one, as individuals warn against brain drain and the major effects it could have on the country as a whole. 

You can’t blame them for that either – a brain drain in the talent pool is not exactly something that we should be aiming for as a nation, and it’s happening more and more with the younger generations, who are essentially the future of Malta.

Speaking from my own personal experience, all my friends pretty much want to leave the country and have either left or are in the process of it.

But the real question is, is this really such a bad thing? 

The best way to start would be to look at the issues which are leading to people wanting to leave in the first place. There is definitely a strong worrying indicator in the fact that 80% of Gen Zs and Millennials are widely concerned about the environment, as it continues to be exploited right before our eyes. 

Many youths are also concerned about over-development in Malta, and the construction industry which seems to be completely off the rails. Corruption was also one of the key worries highlighted within the survey, as well as concerns around the reality of grey-listing. 

Despite the major steps that Malta has taken in terms of social liberalism such as, gay marriage, trans rights, recreational cannabis, divorce, and changes to the voting age, these policies don’t seem to be enough to make people stay, or perhaps they came about a tad too late compared to other places abroad. 

Speaking with some young people, Lovin Malta found out that young people also often leave because they feel that there is a lack of opportunities for growth in a particular career field here in Malta. 

One young adult shared how there are little to no opportunities within the field of marine biology, which is quite ironic considering Malta is an island surrounded by the sea. 

Opportunities seem to be quite stark, unless you want to work in financial services or within the iGaming industry, leaving others that want to pursue other careers with few options. 

The truth is, sometimes it’s good to leave, go abroad, and experience life in a new place, and gather new skills and lessons. 

Embarking far from your comfort zone could be a great way to realise that many tend to over-romanticise life away from Malta while failing to appreciate how good we might have it here in other aspects. 

So why is this not necessarily a bad thing after all? 

Essentially, the youths leaving from Malta to seek new opportunities end up acquiring new skills and ideas that most of them end up bringing back to Malta. 

While many people seemingly want to leave, we tend to forget that most of the people that leave end up coming back, sharing all the freshly acquired knowledge from their time away. 

Being from a small island, right on the periphery of Europe, it’s something quite natural that people would want to leave the country, and it’s something that should actually be encouraged. 

Everyone needs to experience life abroad, independent from the safety-net that family offers on an island like Malta, as an important step in the journey of self-discovery. 

Realistically, picking up these experiences from abroad is only going to enrich and improve our country as a whole. 

A program such as Erasmus has also been successful in doing just that, offering a learning opportunity for students while still fulfilling the studies within their course. 

So really, it would be far more worrying if 70% of youths wanted to stay in Malta. 

With all this being said, such a survey like EY’s still points at various issues in Malta that definitely need to be addressed and tackled, and sweeping them under the rug is surely not the way to go. 

What such a number should trigger is making sure that the 70% of youths that leave, eventually come back. 

If we fail to tackle relevant issues such as the environment, over-development, and corruption, are young people, or any people for that matter, going to want to come back to Malta? 

That’s where our worries should be.

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When Sasha (formerly known as Sasha Tas-Sigar) is not busy writing about environmental injustice, she's probably fighting for women's rights. Follow her at @saaxhaa on Instagram, and send her anything related to the environment, art, and women's rights at [email protected]

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