Young co-operators from all over the world have come together to create a International Cooperative Youth Statement on how co-ops can help alleviate youth unemployment.
The statement will be proposed by Mr. José Antonio Chávez Villanueva, Chair of ICA Youth Network Executive Committee, as part of the Closing Ceremony of the United Nations International Year of Co-operatives on 19 November. It sets out to show the benefits of co-operatives helping young people, and the hurdles that need to be overcome to make this happen.
A draft of the statement explains: “Youth have long been disproportionately affected by issues of unemployment, underemployment, disempowerment and disengagement, and in the current global economic environment, the challenges are magnified.”
“Through effective engagement with cooperative enterprises and organisations, youth can work together with Governments, civil-society and other stakeholders, to overcome these challenges.”
The benefits for young people in co-ops are outlined in the draft; by becoming members of co-ops they can get involved in the decision making process, and develop their entrepreneurial and managerial capacities. Co-ops also enable better opportunities, good work ethics based on self motivation and help young people build confidence.
However, the draft continues: “Despite these real and potential benefits, many hurdles exist that inhibit the ability of youth to engage effectively with cooperatives and vice versa.”
The Youth movement noted that there was a “lack of comprehensive evidence base” on the impact and outcomes of the co-operatives model and that much of it was based on “limited, anecdotal evidence.”
They argued that there was a “lack of awareness and understanding” and this extended to include parents, teachers and other key players in youth development. They added that there was also a “lack of dialogue and mechanisms for effective youth employment”.
The draft goes on to say that to overcome these hurdles “we have to work together” by engaging policy makers, Governments, educational and research institutions, co-operatives, civil society and the international community.
The Youth movement adds: “Most importantly, we need opportunities to ‘live the cooperative experience’ in a youth-friendly environment where our needs and concerns are acknowledged and addressed.”
They argue that the best tools for engagement include the promotion of multi-stakeholder dialogue on co-op development, and early and effective education.
Finally, the draft finishes by saying: “And while we work on making this come together, young me and young women of the world will continue doing what we do best. We will continue to be innovative and forward looking.
“We will continue to be proactive in shaping effective strategies for engaging in cooperative organization and we will continue to use all available channels to share our knowledge and experience with other young women and young men around the world.”
• Find out more about the draft statement and watch the web broadcast here: www.thenews.coop/iycclose