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European Year of Skills in social economy

The Transformation of Skills within Social Economy

During the workshop dedicated to the European Year of Skills, we explored the unique transformations within the social economy. We considered the question: What does this mean for organizations that are central to the social economy when it comes to skills?

Education and Training as a Pillar

Education and training are crucial for all companies, but the social economy has special focal points due to the diversity of enterprises and sectors. Strengthening organizations, governance, and management, especially within worker cooperatives, requires a specific set of skills.

Speakers and Insights

- Giuseppe Guerini (President of CECOP and member of the Economic and Social Committee) emphasized that the social economy requires a unique blend of technical and entrepreneurial skills.
- Sarah de Heusch (Director of Social Economy Europe, Brussels) noted that principles such as democratic participation are not traditionally taught in schools.
- Gerardo Gutiérrez (Director General of the Spanish State Public Employment Service (SEPE)) highlighted the importance of lifelong learning and the need for collaboration between unions and other organizations.

Follow-up and Action Points

There was a call to democratize skills, with Corine van de Burgt (Executive Director of De Omslag and President of ENSIE emphasizing the central role of skills, representing the interests of the social economy on three pillars: social integration, entrepreneurial activities, and a strong pedagogical environment. Within the B-Wise project, an education programme for Wises is being developed in 15 countries with 30 partners. This focuses on improving skills for managers and supervisors as well as for workers with support needs. The emphasis is on digital skills because all employees will desperately need them now and in the future.

European Projects and Initiatives

- Alessia Sebillo (Director of Diesis Network) spoke about the core role of knowledge and aligning with the specific needs of social enterprises. EU Pact for Skills and BWISE were discussed, focusing on future skills with principles like lifelong learning and equal opportunities. Presentations of various projects (BASE, Bwise) showcased how we work on the importance of EU policy and the integration of social economy into education.

Conclusions and Prospects

The social economy is evolving from economic to increasingly social, with a focus on upscaling and digitalization. However, challenges such as financial limitations and the need for training are acknowledged. The differences with regular businesses, especially in the way we work and share profits, are essential.

It was emphasized that collaboration and structural changes are necessary, with programs like Erasmus+ seen as crucial for young people to learn and grow within the social economy.

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