#Coops4dev report looks at young people and co-operatives

Respondents suggested a number of solutions to address youth challenges

The International Cooperative Alliance has published a new report on how co-operatives can help to address the challenges facing young people.

Produced in the framework of the ICA-EU Partnership (#coops4dev), the study covers 20 countries across four regions. The report is based on a survey of more than 420 young people, including co-operators and those less familiar with the co-operative model.

In addition to featuring successful youth co-operatives, the report looks at the ways in which the co-operative movement can strengthen their support for young people.

The study was co-produced by all ICA regional offices with the support of the Co-operative College and input from the ICA Youth Network. The research focused on five key areas: employment, education, inequalities, engagement and civic participation, and entrepreneurship.

Respondents suggested a number of solutions – such as the formation of co-operatives, in particular worker co-operatives; the development of skills through co-operative work, education and training; increasing access to capital including financial assistance for self-employment; increased access to vocational training; and increasing access to global information and technology.

ICA director general Bruno Roelants said: “This study is a mind-opener, and its conclusions and recommendations provide essential food for thought to us all within the co-operative movement on how to promote youth co-operatives, youth employment and participation in co-operatives, as well as education on co-operatives.”

Dr Sarah Alldred, international programmes manager, the Co-operative College, said: “It’s a privilege to have played a part in shaping this report. The practical examples of youth co-operation illustrated throughout highlight how the co-operative model offers creative and meaningful solutions to the challenges young people face.

“Education is at the heart of embedding awareness of co-operatives, as illustrated in the first key recommendation – Improve Knowledge, where the report states ‘education on co-operatives should start from childhood, and continue throughout the lifespan. In wider society, the co-operative movement should work in partnership with external actors towards the inclusion of co-operatives in the curricula at all ages and at all levels. Knowledge should be produced in a democratic and inclusive manner and made accessible to all.’ I encourage everyone who wants to build a fairer world to read this report.”

In light of the findings, the report makes a series of recommendations for co-operatives, co-operative leaders, their representative organisations, young co-operators and young people in general. These include supporting education and knowledge building on co-operatives, communicating the benefits of co-operatives more effectively; and building genuine youth orientated co-operative structures. It also calls for nurturing a real culture of co-operation, promoting decent work and employment, working constructively with other organisations to achieve common objectives and working to create an enabling environment for co-operatives and youth co-operative entrepreneurship.

The full report is available here.

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