In the field of improving the employment of people in a vulnerable position in the labour market, the Council stresses out that social economy enterprise play an important role in supporting people in a vulnerable position preparing for and participating in the labour market: they not only offer jobs, also upskilling and promotion of active citizenship.
The cooperative contribution to the issue is two-fold. More than just providing a job to disadvantaged groups (people with disabilities, migrants, youths…), work integration social cooperatives within our network invest in training ensuring tailored jobs also for persons with specific needs. As recognised by the Council Conclusions, they can provide a sustainable job or act as a stepping-stone for those willing to reintegrate other types of enterprises. As far as the integration of the labour market is concerned, an interesting example comes from Italy where many social cooperatives have taken the lead in providing unemployed people with training, coaching and actual employment placement in several kinds of enterprises, not only cooperative ones.
On the other hand, cooperative entrepreneurship can represent a real opportunity for disadvantaged groups: it not only provides them with a job, but also with the opportunity to become co-owners of the enterprise. A great number of worker cooperatives established by long-term unemployed, for example, can be found in Italy and Spain, combining economic performance and providing quality jobs. The cooperative project combines income with social inclusion and personal empowerment: cooperatives are committed by definition to provide training for their cooperators and employees, which helps those who were out of the labour market for a long time to gain new skills.
We are therefore pleased to see that the Council stresses that social economy enterprises “may be of particular value in supporting people in a vulnerable position preparing for and participating in the labour market. Social enterprises can play a vital role in sustainable job creation and in facilitating social integration. In addition to offering jobs, they can provide upskilling and promote active citizenship, thereby building up these persons' employability in mainstream businesses”.
To conclude, we also reiterate that according to CECOP, democracy at work must be an integral part of the active citizenship praised in the Council Conclusions.