Social Economy

 “To celebrate the renewal of our city environment, to rekindle our spirit of community, to explore our culture and to demonstrate to all our vision of a confident 21st century European city.”  Joe Gavin; City of Making, 2005

Social Economy - Policy

The European Commission, Integrated Guidelines for the economic and employment policies of Member States for implementing Europe 2020 Strategy, states that countries that recognise and value social enterprise as part of the ‘real’ economy have achieved significant growth in employment and output in the sector while addressing genuine social and environmental needs.

The Report of the Social Enterprise Task Force; The Role of Social Enterprise in National Recovery: Adding Value Delivering Change (2010), notes that social enterprise in Ireland has the potential to grow significantly to generate at least 65,000 jobs and 5% of GDP. The report stated that the sector is currently underdeveloped, representing only 3% of GDP. The Department of Enterprise, Trade & Employment’s strategy, Jobs & Growth 2010, recognises social enterprise can contribute significantly to achieving the economic growth and employment nationally. The Forfás report, Developing the Green Economy in Ireland (2009), notes that the green economy agenda can also play a big role in achieving this aim, if supported in the right manner. Both the National Action Plan for Jobs 2015-2017 and The South-West Action Plan for Jobs 2015-2017, reflect how the Community Enterprise Centre Development Programme has maintain or establish strong business development functions in the Community Enterprise Centres.

Social Entrepreneurs Ireland was setup as an independent organisation in 2007 and is funded by private foundations, corporate partners, and individuals. This group, along with other social entrepreneurs such as the Arthur Guinness Fund and Vodafone World of Difference, now form the largest network of social entrepreneurs in Ireland. The School for Social Entrepreneurs (SSE) Ireland opened in 2014 with the goal of empowering people from all backgrounds to create positive social change and is part of a global network of twelve schools located across Australia, Canada and UK.

Cork City has a growing history of nurturing social enterprises. A seminar was held in November 2012 which aimed to further kick-start initiatives to promote social enterprise as a model for developing social and economic benefit in the city. As a result a number of actions were delivered including the establishing of the Northside Social Enterprise Network.  The Network was supported by Plato (with the support of Cork City Council and LOCAL ENTERPRISE OFFICE, CORK CITY) as part of the Northside for Business Initiative. The ambition for the network is to take the lead on the development of a social enterprise strategy for the City in 2016/17, with support from Plato and other Business Support agencies in the City. The Arts and Culture sector in the city operate a number of employment training schemes to provide work placement and learning opportunities in cultural organisations to develop transferable skills.

Social Economy - Stats and Facts

“The number of persons on the Live Register in the City remains 50% higher than in 2007, but has decreased significantly year on year”

Matching the national trend, the annual average number of persons on the Live Register in the Cork City has seen significant variation over the last eight years. The 2015 number remains nearly 50% higher than that of 2007, but has decreased significantly year on year. In January 2016, the total number of persons under the age of 25 years on the Live register in the City was 2,960, accounting for between 10.2% and 12.9% of the total unemployed registering in the cities three social welfare offices.

The City has a wide range of groups seeking to reduce these rates of unemployment through the social economy.  Northside Community Enterprise offers training, work and enterprise skills with a particular focus on improving life skills. Focused skills development programs for young men, such as those run through Churchfield Community Trust can bridge the gaps in formal education (e.g. computer skills, cookery and literacy) while also working as enterprises (e.g. Woodwork, Painting and Horticulture).  Social and food enterprises such as the Community Cafe in Knocknaheeny provide a viable model for creating an environment to motivate and train independent living skills. Boomerang Recycling is a new social and sustainable enterprise project providing local employment for TUS Scheme Workers up-skilling and training and researching means to re-use and recycle mattresses. Meitheal Mara is a community boatyard in the heart of Cork City, a nationally-accredited training centre it provides a range of training opportunities for the whole community, with specific initiatives to help long-term and young unemployed people back to work and education.  Cork Academy of Music is a unique community music initiative which aims to provide an access route to music education for people who are socially, economically or culturally disadvantaged.  It has had significant success in working with young and long-term unemployed people to help them access education and employment.