The new research publication, titled “Young people and co-operatives: a perfect match?” is released today, presenting research and analysis based upon the direct input of over 400 young people from across 20 countries.

How do we engage more young people in co-ops?

The report, co-produced by all ICA regional offices with the support of our team here at the College, as well as input from the ICA Youth Network, demonstrates that co-operatives can play a crucial role in tackling the challenges faced by young people, whilst also contributing to the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). This includes SDG 8 on decent work and SDG 4 on quality education.

The report is split into five key areas that highlight ways in which co-operatives can improve their support and engagement towards young people. These are:

  • Employment
  • Education
  • Inequalities
  • Engagement and civic participation
  • Entrepreneurship

Responses from young people right across the world were collected and analysed for the research, surveying both young people involved in the co-op movement and those less familiar with the co-operative model.

By improving knowledge of co-operatives, communicating their benefits effectively, and developing democratic and inclusive cultures of co-operation, it's clear that the co-operative business model can be a truly viable alternative for solving the challenges facing young people. 

The report is endorsed by key stakeholders from across the co-operative movement, as well as figures from across civil society and the European Union.

Co-operatives are the shining alternative. Naturally embedded in their communities, they are geared to spread wealth and opportunity far and wide. As the pioneers of economic democracy, they are needed now more than ever.

Erinch Sahan, Chief Executive of the World Fair Trade Organization

This study is a mind-opener, and its conclusions and recommendations provide essential food for thought to us all within the co-operative movement on how to promote youth cooperatives, youth employment and participation in cooperatives, as well as education on cooperatives.

Bruno Roelants, ICA Director General

It’s a privilege to have played a part in shaping this report. The practical examples of youth co-operation illustrated throughout highlight how the co-operative model offers creative and meaningful solutions to the challenges young people face. Education is at the heart of embedding awareness of co-operatives, as illustrated in the first key recommendation – Improve Knowledge, where the report states 'education on cooperatives should start from childhood, and continue throughout the lifespan.

In wider society, the cooperative movement should work in partnership with external actors towards the inclusion of cooperatives in the curricula at all ages and at all levels. Knowledge should be produced in a democratic and inclusive manner and made accessible to all.’ I encourage everyone who wants to build a fairer world to read this report.

Dr Sarah Alldred, International Programmes Manager, The Co-operative College

The report is now available to download whilst a Global Youth Forum is planned for later this month, taking place online. 

Download the report