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Cooperatives as alternative model for the future of work: the Italian example showcased at ILO

GENEVA, APRIL 23 – The Italian example of mainstreaming cooperative enterprise model in the wider economy was showcased in Geneva at a side event of the symposium “Future of Work We Want: A Global Dialogue” organized by ILO (International Labour Organization).  Gianluca  Salvatori, the Secretary General of European Research Institute on Cooperatives and Social Enterprises (EURICSE) emphasized the resilience of Italian cooperatives – over 50,000, employing more that 1.7 million people, more than half of whom are women – during economic downturn.

The Italian example during the previous recession shows how cooperatives function countercyclically, increasing their turnover and number of jobs, while other enterprises shrink. Cooperatives are, and continue to be, relevant across economies. In the future of work they have a particular potential to become key players in sectors where automation cannot replace the human contact, such as care and welfare. At the same time, the enterprise solutions will need to be based in the needs of local communities, providing a real bottom-up alternative.

Cooperatives, according to Mr. Salvatori, are well-aligned with the decent work agenda, aiming to create long-term impact on people’s lives and economies at large. Mr. Salvatori called for increased research particularly on legal and policy frameworks for new types of cooperation.

The event was opened by Deborah Greenfield, the ILO Deputy Director-General for Policy, who in her remarks emphasized the newly emerging significance of cooperatives and the social economy for sustainable development, inclusion, and employment creation. She mentioned how evidence can be found in access to finance, formalization of the informal economy and promotion of gender equality. Ms Greenfield affirmed that cooperatives and social economy should be considered among key actors within the future of work discussions. (@OnuItalia)

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