With just under one month to go until the first day of our Centenary Conference and an opening day programme dedicated to young people, our Project Co-ordinator Daniel Cox shares his thoughts on what the co-operative movement can do to inspire and attract a new generation.

Daniel Cox headshot

Why do you think co-operative education is important?

Co-operative education provides progressive perspectives on education and the working world that are sorely needed in today’s society. There's an emphasis on ethical and collaborative teaching, learning and ways of working together. It's designed to put people first and encourage growth and holistic development as opposed to more typical forms of solely monetary success young people are often taught to aspire to today.

I believe it's vitally important because of its ability to bring people of all backgrounds and ages together for the greater good, in times of such division and uncertainty. 

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

Young people at Projeks skate park

I think the co-operative movement needs to re-evaluate how it uses language to communicate with young people. Better utilising the existing tools that we know younger generations use to communicate and explore their world, such as social media is key to this.

If we don't fully listen to their voices and change our language accordingly we risk missing an opportunity to truly understand and engage with young people in a meaningful way. Adapting our language to be more accessible, inclusive and reflective of youth culture will enable us to show just how relevant and beneficial the movement can be in educating and supporting them in reaching their potential.

Here at the College we're in the process of establishing our own Youth Steering Group for this exact purpose, and the feedback we already get from participants in our youth projects is invaluable in ensuring we meet their needs and create better projects for them going forward.

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

Unfortunately, the many problems of modern society do not spare its children. If anything they feel the effects of issues such as austerity and the uncertainty and hardship it brings more acutely, as they are expected to develop, succeed and be steadfast in a constantly shifting and unstable environment. To simply own your own home, achieve a successful and long-lasting career or support a family are no longer simple life goals. They are becoming increasing unattainable for the majority of young people, irrespective of how hard they work. 

What solutions do you think co-ops and co-operation can provide to these issues?

Co-ops can help provide an ethical foundation from which young people can ground themselves and get to grips with the uncertain road ahead of them. The co-operative focus on working together gifts future generations solidarity and community from which they can draw the knowledge, strength and resilience needed to overcome ever growing adversity and reach their potential.

With the range of issues in today's society being so vast and significant, co-operation empowers young people to share their voices, providing them with a platform to make sense of their world and how they want to live in it. Offering inclusive, empowering spaces for young people to develop their identities and begin to shape their own futures is something I think co-ops, and especially co-operative education, excels at.

What excites you most about being involved in our Centenary Conference?

I am excited to network, share ideas and further my understanding of the movement and how we can better serve the future generations of collaborators. Celebrating the hard work of the College and its centenary with friends and colleagues is also something to look forward to!

Daniel will be speaking as 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