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A better future for young people What cooperatives can offer

Too many young people are experiencing a dangerous mix of high unemployment, increased inactivity and precarious work, as well as persistently high working poverty. The cooperative form of enterprise provides young people a means to create their own employment, find jobs with enterprises that often align themselves with their own values, and participate as member-owners of enterprises where their voice is heard. 

The Decent Work deficit

  • Today, there are an estimated 1.2 billion young people between 15 and 24 years old, the largest generation of young people the world has ever known. 
  • In 2012, close to 75 million young people out of work, 4 million more than in 2007. For those that are working, over 200 million earn less than US$ 2 a day. 
  • Youth are almost three times as likely to be unemployed than adults.

The way forward
The scale and impact of the current youth employment crisis on the future of young people and societies is a call for immediate action. While cooperatives are already playing a role in helping young people take their lives into their own hands, there is great potential for further development. Jobs, affordable products and services, opportunities to start a business and the ability to have a voice in how enterprises not only perform economically, but also act within their communities, are possible
through cooperative enterprises. To enable young people to fully take advantage of the cooperative enterprise option, a number of challenges need to be addressed. In many countries cooperatives are not included in school curricula, and so young people do not have the opportunity to learn about the form of enterprise during their studies. Existing mainstream entrepreneurship education and business support services also neglect the cooperative model. Even when the cooperative form of business is introduced to potential members, promoters often underestimate the need for capacity building, business management skills, and specific training in cooperative governance. On the enabling environment front, existing policy and legislation continues to limit the formation and growth of cooperative enterprises. In the case of youth cooperatives, for example, the formation of school
cooperatives can pose particular challenges when minimum age requirements to the formation of
cooperatives are fixed.


The International Labour Organization (ILO) Recommendation 193 on the Promotion of Cooperatives can provide guidance to the major cooperative stakeholder on what measures should be taken. With the right support and progress in addressing the challenges, advances can be made to ensure that the right conditions are in place so that the cooperative model of enterprise can improve livelihoods and help break the barriers which young people face in taking their place in society. Cooperatives can offer a better future to young people.

Click here to read full report

Source for this citation: Zunia

Original Site for this article:ILO

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