Article of the Portal de Economía Solidaria, Spain

What presence does the Solidarity Economy have in youth and vice versa? We reflect on this relationship and ways to promote greater synergies between both areas. An inspiring article by Albert Gasch Hurios (Fiare Banca Etica) for Axis 2 of Idearia 2022

The youth group is not easy to generalize due to its high diversity, both by age and by situation. But there is one thing that a high percentage shares: precariousness. 30% of young people are at risk of social exclusion. This is, among other things, due to the high rate of temporary employment (which has been reduced to 39% in the last month of April), or the high price of rents, which occupies more than 80% of the net salary of a young person. This, together with the inflationary season we are experiencing, makes being young and planning a life project in the medium / long term, something difficult today, if not almost impossible.

These are data and chilling situations and, despite that, or above all because of that, young people want change and mobilize to achieve it. Moreover, we know that the current economic system does not help in this situation. Therefore, the Social and Solidarity Economy wants to offer a response that supports and promotes an alternative to today’s youth. We also need to look within, analyze our strengths and weaknesses, as well as ask ourselves how we are working with today’s young people.

We want solid pillars to be built on SSE on which to maintain possible and sustainable life projects. However, we believe that, to date, SSE has not sufficiently addressed the needs and concerns of youth (article of El Salto Diario in Spanish on Youth cooperatives). And, beyond some isolated reflections, we think that it has not been able to articulate a discourse that starts from a diagnosis about what situation young people find themselves in, how the current economic system conditions their life projects and how from an alternative economic proposal it is able to face their challenges.

These shortcomings and consequent lack of a clear narrative is what we believe that from the SSE must be faced, considering some elements that we have already outlined.

First, to identify from objective data what is the real situation of young people and what are the challenges and barriers they must face. In this article we have given some data, but we must be able to know, share and assume a much more complete diagnosis.

Secondly, to identify what experiences, lines of work, actions are already being carried out by the youth from the SSE. There is no line of work in this regard from the global networks of SSE, but rather some experiences of specific organizations. We also believe it is necessary to identify them in order to know where we start from that point of view.

Thirdly, and in line with the need and willingness to intercooperate that SSE is evidencing, and which constitutes precisely the motivating axis of this IDEARIA, we must also see how organizations can intercooperate in the field of youth. There are already some very powerful intercooperation nodes in this area that are beginning to germinate, such as the School of Economic Activism (article of El Salto Diario in Spanish) It is necessary to reflect on how to reinforce this type of initiative and see what other intercooperation practices we can establish.

But above all, and transversal to everything we are pointing out, we must be able to generate a discourse from the SSE. A discourse that puts the approaches of the solidarity economy as the set of narratives that is capable of giving answers to young people. A general reflection shared prior to or parallel to all lines of action. That is perhaps the most complicated, but we believe it is necessary and possible.

This implies continuing, therefore, to fight our cultural battle to generate critical thinking also among young people, bringing them closer to the values of SSE, forming them, accompanying them and being present, in a world where they precisely receive constant messages that are opposed to the vision of the economy and society that we defend.

Youth is the society of the future, the quarry that we must take care of. So is SSE. In this year 2022 declared by the European Union the European Year of Youth, it is important that SSE is also visible as an active agent in this sector. We are in a moment where youth is on the political agenda of all administrations and decision-making spaces, being for example, one of the important issues in the European recovery funds (the so-called Next Generation) All the work carried out by the SSE in this area, such as the creation of its own discourse that we mentioned before, are essential to position ourself before the different administrations, the decision-making centers or the whole of society.

In short, there are many challenges that lie ahead but in this IDEARIA we will try to face them in a structured way listening to what the youth have to say and putting their needs on the table.