A new thematic research publication Young people and cooperatives: a perfect match? was released this week, presenting research and analysis based upon the direct input of young people in 20 countries.
Organised into five chapters and presenting a number of practical examples of youth cooperation, the report identifies ways that support between young people and cooperatives can be improved. 420 responses from young people were collected and analysed for the research, which surveyed both young cooperators and young people less familiar with the cooperative model.
Produced in the framework of the ICA-EU Partnership, external support for the research was provided by the Co-operative College (UK), with conclusions and recommendations developed in collaboration with the ICA Youth Network. ICA-EU Partnership on international development (also known as #coops4dev) was signed in 2016 between the International Cooperative Alliance (ICA) and the European Commission to strengthen the cooperative movement as key actor in international development.
The report demonstrates that cooperatives can play a crucial role in solving the challenges of young people, whilst also contributing to the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), including SDG 8 on decent work and SDG 4 on quality education. It’s five key focus areas are employment, education, inequalities, engagement and civic participation, and entrepreneurship. The report also highlights ways in which cooperatives can improve their support and engagement towards young people.
By improving knowledge of cooperatives, communicating their benefits effectively, and by developing democratic and inclusive cultures of cooperation, the cooperative business model can be a truly viable alternative for solving the challenges facing young people, which have been amplified against a new backdrop of insecurity and inequality emerging since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The report was endorsed by key stakeholders, including high level representatives from the cooperative movement, civil society, and the European Union. Erinch Sahan, Chief Executive of the World Fair Trade Organization, highlighted the role of cooperatives for youth employment, noting: “cooperatives are the shining alternative. Naturally embedded in their communities, they are geared to spread wealth and opportunity far and wide. As the pioneers of economic democracy, they are needed now more than ever”.
ICA Director General, Bruno Roelants, acknowledged the value of the report for the cooperative movement by stating that “this study is a mind-opener, and its conclusions and recommendations provide essential food for thought to us all within the cooperative movement on how to promote youth cooperatives, youth employment and participation in cooperatives, as well as education on cooperatives”.