The Co-operative College is involved in a number of European projects with different European partners that strengthen the co-operative movement and provide co-operative solutions to the most challenging social problems. One of these is the EU-funded Entrepreneurial Cooperative Experience (ECOOPE) project that promotes youth entrepreneurship using the co-operative business model. A key part of the project is the design and implementation of two entrepreneurial co-operative training programmes: one aimed at secondary education level and the other for Higher Education institutions. Part of this involves students gaining practical working experience abroad, and the Co-operative College recently had a visit from the students doing their work experience in the UK.
The group of 3 students, Luiz and Leire from Spain and Sam from the UK, are working as a small dynamic team on an assignment at SUMA as part of the programme. The teams all try to combine different skills and work on a challenge defined by their host organisation. This can be anything, from helping the organisation to launch a new product or service, developing a youth market or trying to get more members. It’s entirely based on the host co-operative’s needs, present or future, to help them develop something innovative that they may not ordinarily have the time to work on themselves.
The students are based at SUMA for 4 weeks after having had a central group training session delivered by the Co-operative College in Santander. In turn, the host co-operatives benefit from the skills and knowledge of young university students and recent graduates, with a particular focus on young customers or young future co-operators.
Luiz, Leire and Sam learned a lot about co-ops in the North West as they made the most of their trip and took the opportunity to visit Unicorn in Manchester, Valley Organics Co-op in Hebden Bridge and Leeds Bread Co-op as well as making a trip to Rochdale to the Pioneers Museum.