An interesting training session was held in Bucharest on Tuesday 20 and Wednesday 21 February 2018 to discuss “Developing social entrepreneurial skills as a solution for reducing youth unemployment”.
Speakers presented resourceful insights on several topics such as the European policy and financial opportunities for the promotion of cooperatives, the route to the cooperative enterprise and the project plan.
Participants in the training were mostly students, with some professionals working the field of social economy and researchers.
Participants reported that the cooperative system in Romania is mainly seen as weak and lacking credibility. A big reason for this negative judgement is that the cooperative system is largely associated with the cooperatives during the communist regime. This perception affects generally the social sector, to which the cooperatives belong, limiting its attractiveness. An exception is represented by agricultural cooperatives, which have been judged as potentially very productive if they have the opportunities to develop and grow.
A second obstacle, as described by the participants, is the rigidity and corruption within the state. Access to the market proves to be difficult for someone with no political ties.
Lastly, lack of social trust within the society is also particularly problematic. Cooperatives are based on the cooperation among people, but in the absence of trust, the idea of social economy might not be well received.
To tackle the problem, a positive shift in the image is needed. Most participants agreed that there is a need for more publicity for social economy and some of them proposed that notions of social economy should be taught in schools. In fact, although law n. 219, July 2015, on cooperative enterprise has, for the first time since the communist regime, comprehensively structured regulations in the sector, its positive effects have failed yet to materialize by 2017. Since most local and central authorities are not proactive in stimulating this sector, educational and development programs could have instead a significant influence.
During the seminar, it was clearly pointed out that one of the most important impediments for entrepreneurial and cooperative education is the weak relationship between educational system and business world. Not only education on social economy should be improved. The business world should also help students apply their knowledge and/or serve as an example of good practice. A greater involvement on behalf of public authorities would be crucial.