Generally, I’m a supporter of co-operatives. Loyal readers might remember that I wrote a post to propose that libraries should co-operate to create an academic publishing solution (10 Jan 2013) and another about the attractiveness of art-buying co-operatives (20 June 2013). So I was interested to learn from BBC’s Radio 4 recently that in the UK there has been a marked increase in co-operative membership (‘co-operative’ here referring to consumer co-ops and employee co-ops). This trend is outlined in Co-operatives UK’s report, Reimagine the economy: the UK co-operative economy 2017.
One intriguing aspect of this trend — the reason for posting on it here — is that one group that has become increasingly attractive to co-operative working consists of (often young) creatives. According to Co-operatives UK: “With collaboration a natural way of working for many people in these sectors, the last year saw a 28% increase in the number of start-ups among digital and arts organisations, accounting for just over 10% of all co-op start-ups over the year”.
Co-operatives UK has been supporting this trend, for example through publishing a resource, Creative co-operatives: a guide to starting a co-operative in the creative industries.
As someone who spends much time working in universities, I was interested in this comment from Linda Ball of the University of the Arts London: “Although universities are getting much better at running group projects, they need to make it much clearer to students how important collaboration is, and to provide opportunities for students to get together and co-operate in different ways on projects, and simulate what’s actually going on out there in the working world”.
It would be good if universities — not only their careers services but also tutors who care about their students’ employability — took note.