ILO identifies role for co-operatives in solving the youth employment crisis

Co-operatives could help young people find sustainable employment and offer a way out of the youth employment crisis says the International Labor Office (ILO). It is calling for governments and other agencies to ensure an enabling business environment in which co-operatives can flourish and recommending co-operatives are placed on school curricula.

The ILO is urging action on the youth unemployment crisis, identifying its high social and economic costs. In a new publication entitled ‘The youth unemployment crisis: A call for action’, the ILO states that generating sufficient decent jobs for youth is of the highest global priority for governments, employers and workers.

In 2012, there are nearly 75 million young people out of work – a jump of 4 million in five years. Many of these have never worked, and it is estimated that more than 6 million young people have given up looking for a job. Those that are working are often languishing in low productivity and insecure jobs. The publication identifies the danger of a “lost generation” being created, stating: “This unprecedented situation can result in a long-lasting “scarring” effect on young people, particularly from disadvantaged backgrounds.”

However, the report acknowledges that “young people represent the promise of changing societies for the better”, and identifies the potential for young people to find access to employment through youth entrepreneurship. It says: “Youth entrepreneurship can be a pathway to decent work and sustainable enterprise for some young people and should be a component of national efforts to address the youth employment crisis.”

The ILO recommends embedding entrepreneurship curricula at an early age, including education on co-operatives. It says: “Information about co-operatives should be introduced to students within national curricula.”

The ILO also urges governments to consider improving access to finance for co-operatives, for example by subsidising credit, guaranteeing loans and supporting microcredit initiatives.

To find out about the Co-operative College’s Young Co-operatives scheme, a programme encouraging schools to set up and run their own student enterprises as co-operatives, visit

Download the ILO report below:

The youth unemployment crisis: A call for action

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