For the first time, we're dedicating a whole day of our Centenary Conference programme to tackling the issues that most affect young people. With workshops focused on youth social action and what life is like in a co-operative school, to plenary sessions on the future of work, this action packed first day is sure to stimulate discussion and debate amongst all those attending.

Co-operation For a New Generation

09:00 Registration and Refreshments

10:15 Welcome From The Co-operative College

Our very own Daniel Cox, Project Co-ordinator and Trustee, will formally welcome everyone to the first day of our Centenary Conference.

10:30 Welcome to Rochdale - Cllr John Blundell, Cabinet Member for Regeneration, Business, Skills and Employment, Rochdale Borough Council

10:40 Keynote One: Cllr Sean Fielding, Leader of Oldham Council

Cllr Sean Fielding will share his valuable insights in his capacity as GMCA Portfolio Lead for Education, Skills, Work & Apprenticeships as well as the Leader of Oldham Council.

11:05 Plenary: Co-operative Youth Action Now

Panel: Marc Nöel (Chair) - International Development Director, International Co-operatives Alliance/Co-operatives Europe | Gemma Obeng, UK Programmes Manager, The Co-operative College | Andy Mortimer, Communciations Manager, Co-op Foundation | Sara Vicari - Co-Founder, AroundTheWorld.coopLois McClure, Assistant Partnerships Manager, Co-op

This session will address the social and economic challenges young people face and the role co-operatives can take to tackle some of these issues and generate opportunities.

The panel will discuss;

  • How they are proactively engaging with young people in the community and the workplace.
  • How co-operation can allow young people to innovate and practice the behaviours and skills required for active citizenship and finding fulfilment and excitement in their working lives.
  • Why youth engagement within co-operatives can positively shape the movement.

12:10 Keynote Two: Pip Sayers, Chair of General Council, Woodcraft Folk

With a title of Empowering Young People to Change the World, Pip will talk about Woodcraft Folk’s experience educating and empowering young people on cooperative principles, and how to ensure our work is youth lead and for everyone.

12:30 Lunch + screening of Aroundtheworld.coop films


13:30 Workshops

Your chance to choose one of the workshops outlined below.

Workshop One: Youth Co-operative Action Now (Gemma Obeng, UK Programmes Manager, The Co-operative College | Daniel Cox, Project Co-ordinator, The Co-operative College)

Led by our very own Gemma Obeng, UK Programme Manager here at the Co-operative College, this interactive session will provide participants with insights into how co-operative values can be used to take social action, using case studies, group work and discussions. You’ll look at cases of good practice from co-operatives across the globe and have the opportunity to reflect on the work of the Rochdale Pioneers and how they took social action to create one of the first successful co-operatives in 1844.

Workshop Two: AroundtheWorld.coop (Sara Vicari, Co-founder AroundtheWorld.coop and Marc Nöel,International Development Director, International Co-operatives Alliance/Co-operatives Europe)

A couple of young professionals – a participatory action researcher and a video-maker – in partnership with Coops4Dev programme of ICA, travelling around the word for one year, documenting inclusive and well performing cooperatives and telling stories of resilience, self-reliance and sustainable human development: this is in a nutshell the aroundtheworld.coop project!

Join this session to get to know more about the project, the methodology used, the innovative cooperatives documented, as well as to engage in a participatory discussion about the importance of storytelling for cooperative development.

Workshop three: Co-ops and the Sustainable Development Goals in Focus (Amanda Benson, Projects and Research Officer, The Co-operative College)

Co-ops have the potential to address many of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), but there are some key goals that co-ops are particularly well placed to address.  This session will introduce the SDGs using a range of 'hands on' activities that demonstrate how co-ops can act as positive agents of change to achieve them.

Workshop Four: Life in a Co-operative School (Ishaa Asim, Member of Greater Manchester Youth Parliament)

Ishaa will speak about her experience at her former secondary school, Coop Academy North Manchester, as well as how the cooperative values played a part in the education she received.

Workshop Five: Tour of the Rochdale Pioneers Museum (starts at 1pm)

Visit the birthplace of modern co-operation in the UK. Number 31 Toad Lane, Rochdale is synonymous with the co-operative movement across the globe. The museum will be hosting tours of the museum through-out the College’s Centenary Conference so you can see where it all began.


14:30 Refreshments

15:00 Keynote Three: Andy Burnham, Mayor of Greater Manchester Combined Authority

15:25 Plenary: Young People and the Future of Work

Panel: Anca Voinea (Chair) - International Editor, Co-op News | Ana Aguire - Vice President ICA Youth Network (Europe) | Alexandre Gatti Lages, OCEMG Superintendent | Cllr Daniel Meredith, Rochdale Borough Council | Pip Sayers, Chair of General Council, Woodcraft Folk

Young workers and the world of work are massively vulnerable to change, be it through technological innovation, population shifts, climate change and globalisation. These changes have accelerated in the last couple of decades and radically shape how we live, work and think. 

The old assumptions about gender roles, "job security" and "planned careers" have been transformed but young people also have capabilities which make them dynamic and resilient, such as digital fluency and diverse understandings of the nature and place of work in their lives.  

Here we explore a number of these challenges and consider how young people can and have used collective entrepreneurial approaches to innovate and organise in new spaces.

16:40 Keynote Four: Sebastian Chailou, President, ICA Youth Network

Sebastian will talk about the work of the ICA Youth Network, sharing his views on the future of education and how together we can ensure that no one is left behind.

17:00 Close

18:30 Social, Buffet & Entertainment at the Flying Horse Hotel


Like the look of day one? Then take a look at day two and three too!

There are also still a limited number of £100 tickets remaining which give access to all three days of our Centenary Conference plus our Gala Dinner! See more information over in our ticketing area

Ticketing Area