Social economy as an “ecosystem” for job creation

Social economy as an “ecosystem” for job creation


“In the transition from the 2nd to the 3rd industrial revolution, labor is experiencing a deep restructuring with most possibly its end. Labor is reinvented itself in many new fields. As a result, many will be forced to become self-employed, beyond paid work.”


We are at a historical turning point that due to technological developments and its so so-called technological unemployment opportunities for job creation by employers, who are mainly the market and the state, are being narrowed more and more. And this of course contradicts the well-established notion that every technological advancement develops the demand for workers. The fact that industrial revolution developed to unprecedented levels wage labor does not mean that with further automatization, robotics and computer science we will have the same trend. In contrast to the new technological revolution, a complete overthrow is expected. Another dimension is the ambiguity of the time we are living in and of the system. On the one hand, the great competition in the pursuit of profit reduces the rate of profit, while on the other hand technological innovation and automatization plus intellectual property ensure high profitability for the Capital that buys, invests in innovations and holds property rights.This fact contrasts the forces of the 2nd from the 3rd industrial revolution in the field of capital and labor. An internal conflict that alters the data.
Throughout the period marked by the industrial age we had a rapid growth of employment in the form of wage labor. This happened with the industrialization of production when profit-driven capital employers set up businesses by hiring a large number of workers and employees. Employment was a prerequisite for business profits and earnings a prerequisite for the creation of new jobs by employers. When profits no longer come from this relationship, but for a large part of the capital come mainly from automated industries, financial markets and banks, with few employees and limited bureaucracy, then employers in small and medium-sized enterprises who objectively create a significant part jobs lose the incentive to do business. The data we have for Greece in the last decade is that 1/3 of small and medium enterprises have closed as unsustainable and will not be replaced by the market in the foreseeable future. The state also with a reduced tax base and revenues not only can not expand recruitment but, can not even maintain them at the same level, as it necessarily manages fewer resources and has to meet more needs in social policy and social benefits.
Therefore, the question that arises is which sector of the economy will fill this gap in the chain of supply and demand of new jobs and how? How to generate income for those excluded from the market and the state. The answer to the most advanced economies of the West exists and has been given. It is the third non-profit sector. The social solidarity economy. Consumer and productive cooperatives. The emerging sector that in Europe, America and China currently occupies about 10% of economic activity. But one would say that cooperatives are not something new and that they are a history of two centuries, they existed throughout the industrial revolution, however, they played a minor role in development. Indeed, they grew up in the shadow of large corporations that had greater potential and capacities for capital raising, business flexibility to withstand competition. But now the profit in many conventional companies is nullified and some of them are forced to lock or make clusters, (partnerships) to survive. Thus, out of necessity, cooperatives are back in the news, as they can operate in scale economies, with little or no profit, but offering as incentive, income and reduced prices to its members and consumers. The noticeable difference is that the members are the same investors and consumers, thus abolishing mediation. The abolition of mediation is also the strong advantage of social cooperatives. It makes social enterprises viable where small and medium-sized private companies can not be, for reasons of competition, eg in the field of catering, home help, caretakers, gardeners, transporters, computer technicians.Energy cooperatives, housing and consumer today offer strong incentives for self-managed entrepreneurship and additional jobs. They can become “entrepreneurs, united consumers, members of an entire community. Businesses can become cultural institutions, and humanitarian charities.

They can activate inactive resources, buildings, abandoned facilities, lands, common areas, forestsetc. They can organize inactive human resources by offering social services in the field of nutrition, health and social services. They can employ unskilled people to help at home. All these traditional but also necessary tasks of everyday life, because of the fact that they does not have the motivation and automatization of profit, need institutional organization. Social and political support to thrive. That is why when we talk about the development of the social economy and the strengthening of employment through it, the precondition is the existence of an “ecosystem” for the social economy, which is understood as an institutional favorable environment for it to grow. It is not only the appropriate legislation for social enterprises that is needed, but mainly the resources, the policy, the organizational standards and the organizational collaborative culture that constitute the institutional environment. Involve the whole community in this environment in the capacity of producer and consumer at the same time without the mediation of trade. Utilizing the social capital of networks and volunteering. Utilizing the common cultural heritage and common areas. Claiming from the political system the resources that are appropriate for the third sector of the economy. It is of course the responsibility of society itself and civil society organizations to highlight the spirit of collaboration that creates jobs by working together to create clusters and partnerships to be able to mobilize sufficient resources and produce more goods and services for the most weak social groups.
The objective is to protect these social groups and especially young people from economic-employment exclusion but also from social exclusion. The problem for the social economy is not to train the young unemployed in new fields to find job where there is overcrowding for the few jobs offered anyway from the labor market, but to create new jobs where there is a real need for nutrition. health, information and culture. There are many successful examples such as agritourism, ecotourism, socially supported agrotourism and cultural entrepreneurship that have boosted local self-sufficiency. As there are internet communities that have come up with social software management companies.

The individual examples, however, do not constitute the solution to the general problem of youth unemployment. We need a holistic approach to job creation by social enterprises that can lean on an institutional framework and resources for the development of these businesses. The EU has relevant policies and directives and this perception must be passed down to the Regions and the Local Government. In Greece, the Regions have community resources for the social economy that divert them to other sectors of the economy. The Ministry of Labor subsidizes mainly temporary employees in the Local Government. With this policy, the last 8 years have been deprived of resources from the field of social economy, with the consequence that social enterprises are the only ones that are not supported by the Community framework. But in this way, modern society lacks the ability to create alternative ways of creating jobs and incomes for young people. In a democratic state, however, what is not perceived from above requires pressure from below to be accepted. A program that aims to mobilize social enterprises to work in clusters, but also regionally in associations can help to mature the conditions for more employment in the third sector of the economy.