Despite the current crisis, it is estimated that between 2007 and 2011, employment in cooperatives has increased by 8%, compared with a decrease of 2.3% in all types of enterprises in Italy. In 2012, the employment in Italian cooperatives has grown by 2.8% creating 36,000 new jobs compared to 2011 and increasing up to a total of 1,341,000 employees. In terms of job creation per company, the average employment figures indicate that cooperative enterprises employ 17.3 people, 5 times more than traditional companies who employ an average of 3.5 workers per firm. Those are some of the conclusions that arise from the first “Annual Report on Cooperation in Italy” produced by the Italian research institute, Censis, for the Alliance of Italian Cooperatives, that joins together the three main Italian confederations of cooperatives (AGCI, Confcooperative and Legacoop).
The study shows that nowadays, cooperatives contribute to 7.2% of the total employment created by enterprises in Italy. Regarding sectors of activity, the most significant contribution is in the service sector (where 23.6% of workers are employed in cooperatives), in particular in health care and social assistance (49.7%), transport and logistics (24%) and support services for business (15.7%). Social cooperatives have registered “a real boom” of employees in the period between 2007-2011 (17.3%), which has been continuing in 2012 (4.3%). However, the crisis is still affecting the construction sector, where 9.3% of jobs were lost between 2007-2011 and a further 1.6 % loss was registered in 2012.
In terms of gender equality, the Italian cooperative model has a strong female presence: 52.2% of the cooperative workers are women and hold 29.1% of seats on the boards. In 17.9% of the cooperatives more than half of employees and board members are women.
Late payments from the public administration are the main obstacle.
This research confirms that, as already underlined in the CECOP report “The resilience of the cooperative model” late payment by public administration is a huge obstacle for the development of cooperatives. 34.4% of the companies inquired, pointed out this factor, followed by other problems such as a drop in demand (32.3%), delays in payments from private customers (26%) and the high cost of fuel and energy (24.9%).
However, the world of cooperation has been able to respond positively to the crisis, defend employment and seek new market opportunities. According to the survey, 40.2% of cooperatives are getting through a stable phase, 24.6% experienced a period of consolidation, 17.4% reported even a period of growth and only 17.7% complained about serious trouble. Small cooperatives are the most vulnerable and susceptible to the effects of the economic crisis: 31% of the cooperatives with less than 10 employees are experiencing difficulties.
More generally speaking, the “Annual Report on Cooperation in Italy” shows how Italian cooperatives represent a more viable business model, putting people and communities at the heart of its activities through the creation and maintenance of jobs and the democratic model of participation.
Read the full report (in Italian) here