The Scottish Labour party recently launched its manifesto for growth ahead of the upcoming elections in May. Two important areas were earmarked for development: business and entrepreneurship education for students; and the need to increase the number of co-operative enterprises.
“We want to ensure that every graduate receives entrepreneurship and business education as part of their course and we will also introduce a new “Flying Start” programme to support the ambition of those graduates who want to set up a business.”
“The United Nations has decreed 2012 the International Year of the Co-operative. We are committed to ensuring that Scotland plays its full part by increasing the number of co-operative start-ups.”
Both of these ideas are merely just that at the moment; ideas. They do however, raise a vital point about business education and its impact on the co-operative model of enterprise in Scotland. The dearth of entrepreneurial activity (Mondragon and other noticable examples aside) in the co-operative movement has inhibited the growth and recognition of the co-operative model of enterprise. Its cause can be somewhat attributed to the style and content of business and entrepreneurship education in Scotland. Very few courses in these areas mention the co-operative model of enterprise, let alone provide advice and guidance on how to set one up.
The co-operative business model contains many elements that distinguish it from more conventional models of business ownership. It also shares some common features. To help clear up this confusion and provide direction, the Co-operative Education Trust Scotland, in partnership with the University of Aberdeen, is producing a number of resources to provide students with the knowledge, skills and abilities to understand and utilise the co-operative model of enterprise. Details of these resources can be found on our project website: