A new project aims to improve European youth employability through education in co-operative entrepreneurship.
An initiative co-funded by the European Union, Entrepreneurial Cooperative Experience (ECOOPE) aims to showcase entrepreneur training programmes based on the co-operative model, for students in secondary and higher education.
The project is led by the University of Cantabria and Santander International Entrepreneurship Centre and features six other European institutions which specialise in the co-operative business model and the design and implementation of entrepreneurial programmes for young people.
These are the Co-operative College in the UK, Euricse in Italy, the Lappeenranta University of Technology – LUT in Finland, PEEP – Policy Experimentation and Evaluation Platform and the University of Porto and Valnalón in Spain.
The participating institutions and programmes will become members of the ECOOPE community, which will give them access to the documents produced and will be included in an open source guide that will be accessible to the public.
Angela Colebrook, learning and development manager at the Co-operative College, said it would provide “an opportunity for young people to learn about co-operatives and to explore the opportunities that co-operatives might bring as an alternative form of employment and entrepreneurship, and give them more employability options”.
Minna Hämäilänen, coordinator of the Centre for Training and Development of LUT, thinks the project will mean “an entrepreneurial mind-set of young people will develop and they will start to seek for new employment possibilities more actively”.
Dana Redford, director of the Policy Experimentation and Evaluation Platform (PEEP), added: “ECOOPE goals are very important for the labour market. We see that co-operatives are an important new tendency for young people, specially.
“And we tend to have more stable growth and more stable employment with co-operatives, so we look to social entrepreneurship and entrepreneurial education and training to develop further for this project.”
As part of the project, ECOOPE will be hosting the first European Conference on Co-operative Entrepreneurial Education early in 2018. This will feature the ECOOPE European Award and winners will be invited to present their initiative to international key stakeholders and featured in a publication.
The deadline to apply for the award is 5 November. The award is open to teachers, managers and experts, as well as institutions with a co-operative entrepreneurship programme or methodology inside their syllabus dedicated to secondary and university level students.