Co-operative enterprise is seldom included in the curriculum, but can present a real opportunity to young people to take a more creative approach to their futures and improve their lives. Young Co-operatives is a school-based enterprise project that since 2008 has given thousands of 8-18 year olds the chance to set up and run their own co-operative businesses. This experience helps them develop a range of important business skills and soft skills along the way (from problem solving to dispute resolution to teamwork).

Examples include the students at the Madras College Enterprise Co-operative in Fife who set up a garden themed business selling bulbs, as well as planters, bird boxes and feeders, and members of the Epsom College Young Co-operative who set up a Valentine’s Day “Love Box” where students could pay £2 to deliver a Fair Trade red rose to a fellow student. 

In an uncertain economy where youth unemployment is high, school leavers are finding it increasingly hard to find meaningful employment. The Young Co-operatives project enables children and young people to experience a new and refreshing perspective on the world of work whilst also learning resilience and self-determination.