EU2020: “An agenda for new skills and jobs”

How co-operatives help:

Co-operatives create and maintain sustainable employment. They provide 5.4 million jobs to European citizens and over 100 million jobs around the world – 20% more than multinational enterprises . Equal pay for equal work, fair balance of genders in managerial positions, promotion of diversity, inclusion programs for disabled employees, as well as for the youngest and seniors; these are some of the initiatives taken by co-operatives.

  • Co-operatives dedicate a substantial part of their resources to education and training of their staff; so workers enjoy a high level of job security because their skills are less likely to become obsolete;
  • Industrial and services co-operatives which are known as “worker co-operatives”, are a strong additional element by which labour flexibility and security can be fully combined;
  • Co-operatives provide sustainable employment to disadvantaged workers such as disabled, the long-term unemployed and socially marginalised persons;
  • Co-operatives have proven successes in “workers buy-outs” ensuring the survival of jobs and even local skills. In times of crisis, when companies threatened by bankruptcies and closures, such a system is a solution that maintains existing jobs;
  • With an equity ethos, participatory decision-making and common ownership, co-operatives expand opportunities for gender equality and women’s participation and involvement in local economies and societies.

How European institutions can help us

  • The EU could foster training of young staff-members in co-operatives.
  • The European Union could recognize the important role of co-operatives when it comes to providing women with life-long learning opportunities and access to management posts.
  • The experience of co-operatives shows us that it is possible to finance business development through specific co-operative instruments: instead of investing in the creation of new tools the EU could find the inspiration in tried and tested models.
  • Access to European funding for education.
  • The EU could revise restrictions on public procurement so that the public authorities are allowed to make demands on suppliers’ ethical and sustainable business practices (e.g. the number of trainees, employees with special needs etc.).
  • Effort could be concentrated on more than creating new jobs: European policies could also promote measures and policies in favour of maintaining and saving existing jobs.
  • European Commission could recognize co-operatives contribution for their prevention of poverty and social exclusion.

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