To celebrate International Youth Day on the 12th August, today sees us launch a very special blog series focused on all those who'll be speaking at our very own youth day as part of our Centenary Conference later this year.

First up we have Anca Vionea, International Editor at Co-op News who shares with us her thoughts on why she thinks Co-operative Eduation is important and what solutions co-operatives can provide to some of the biggest issues facing young people today

Why do you think co-operative education is important?

At a time when there is so much division not just in the UK, but also in other countries, teaching co-operative values can play a crucial role in bringing people together. This division is fuelled by inequality and co-ops can help to address this imbalance by empowering people of all ages and backgrounds. When we talk about co-operative education, we also refer to a specific way of teaching, which involves both tutors and learners and promotes inclusiveness.

What do you think the co-operative movement can do to make itself more relevant to young people?

I think the co-operative movement has the tendency of talking to itself, which means that its message sometimes fails to reach young people who are not already members of co-ops. There needs to me more active involvement with groups and organisations that can help the movement reach new audiences. Equally important is making sure co-ops use the right channels to reach young people, ensuring they have a good online and social media presence. The language used to engage with them also matters – some of the co-op terminology doesn’t appeal to young people. There is also the danger of sounding patronising. My view is that the movement should try to avoid abstract terms and focus more on practical examples.

What do you think are some of the biggest issues facing young people today?

The biggest issues for young people are the lack of affordable housing and the precariousness of jobs, both of which are intertwined. Without the security of long-term, stable employment, young people have to move from one place to another, often at short notice. Getting on the housing ladder is also increasingly difficult for them as housing prices continue to rise. Many end up living with their parents till their late 20s to save money.

What solutions do you think co-operation can provide to some of these issues?

Co-ops can help to address both of these issues. Housing co-ops are already offering affordable options to students in the UK as well as those in other countries. Young professionals could also come together to develop housing models like Lilac in West Leeds - a co-housing community of 20 eco-build households. Those working as freelancers could explore joining co-ops like Smart in Belgium, which helps workers to benefit from legal, administrative and financial services or insurance for accidents at work. Tech worker co-ops are also on the rise, as part of a drive to build a tech industry that's better for its workers and customers.

What excites you most about being part of our conference?

I look forward to engaging with everyone who will be attending the conference, exchanging ideas and learning from them. I am also excited about celebrating the College’s 100 years anniversary – such an important milestone for the movement!

Anca will be part of an action packed first day at our Centenary Conference and Gala Dinner, taking place at Rochdale's iconic town hall from the 26-28 November. There are still a limited number of £100 tickets remaining with more information available via the button below.

See more about our centenary conference