Throughout August we're shining the spotlight on our youth work, and in-particular, our youth focused day at our centenary conference which takes place from the 26-28 November

Lois McClure, former winner of National Intermediate Apprentice of the Year and a key member of the partnerships team at Co-op, tells us why she thinks co-operative education is important and what changes we could make to get more young people excited about co-ops.

Why do you think co-operative education is important?

Co-operative education is important because we can see that future generations want radical change within society. Young people want to work together, they want sustainability, they want more options and choices for everything in life and want to make social impact within their society.

Traditional capitalist views are slowly fading and I believe this is where co-operative education can come into play. It can give young people that other option they want and crave, but they just don’t know about it.

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

I think first off the co-operative movement needs to be part of mainstream education. The reason it isn’t as popular with young people is because they don’t know about it, and unless they actively seek it out then it doesn’t reach them.

I also think sometimes the language we use within the co-operative movement is still a little old school, and maybe tailoring this and the way it's used would enable young people to understand a bit more and want to be part of it.

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

I feel like a huge issue for young people today is definitely money. It’s an issue that involves and touches so much of our lives. The new ‘Intstagram lifestyle’ is putting so much pressure on young people to always have the best in life, sometimes irrespective of cost.

It’s so easy for people to access money they don’t have, which often ends in a downwards spiral. The cost of buying a house for young people now is so extortionate. We are told to grow up yet we can’t afford to be independent and get our own homes.

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

I think co-operation can help educate young people on money and do it in way that gives both totally independent and factual advice. It’s so confusing looking on online for money advice, browsing mortgage websites and just searching on google. You sometimes don’t know what is right or wrong.

We can encourage young people to co-operate together to overcome problems and inform others too. I know that some co-operatives are already involved in the housing and banking sectors, but it doesn’t seem to be enough. It needs to be bigger and we need to shout about it.

What excites you most about being part of our conference?

I’m so honoured to be asked to speak on the first day of the conference on behalf of many young co-operators out there. I hope to learn from other co-operators at the conference and see how we can work together to bring co-operative education to the forefront of young people's minds.

Lois will 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