A think piece by ESSFI: SSE Facing The New Challenges at work


* The aritcle is written by ESSFI as part of the joint project of GSEF Communicatino Working Group, you can also check out the original article at the ESSFI webpage here



1. Inequalities of opportunities: a consequence of the persistence of poverty and income inequalities



1.1. The threat of poverty for the active population

The persistence of extreme poverty, which grows despite the progress made over the last few years, illustrates the importance of the struggle for the realization of economic and social rights. In 2013, 767 million people were living below the internationally established poverty line of US $ 1.90 per person per day (PPP). This implies that almost 11 out of 100 people are poor[1]..

The threat of poverty does not only target the poorest citizens of the planet: in the European Union, almost half of the unemployed - 48.7%  - were at risk of poverty in 2016 and this figure had increased regular in previous years.

Poverty does not only affect the unemployed: poverty in the workplace is also common. And for good reason, the number of workers in forms of vulnerable employment reaches 42% of workers worldwide, or 1.4 billion. The labor force is therefore also threatened by poverty.

This trend must also be seen through the spectrum of income inequality: the distribution of labor and capital income has widened with the 2008 crisis and a number of demographic groups underpin these job market trends. Among these groups, women and youth are less likely to participate in the labor market.


1.2. The undermining of the consensus on equal opportunities

There seems to be a consensus, however, that every human being has the right, at the very least, to equal opportunities. The problem is that in many societies, the most disadvantaged populations start life with a disability and will encounter more obstacles in their path than others. There is therefore a clear negative relationship between economic inequality in a country and intergenerational income mobility. Alan Krueger described this phenomenon as "the Great Gatsby curve".

Unequal opportunities therefore fuel the threat of poverty - even extreme poverty - income inequality and economic insecurity. These income inequalities are deepening in our societies, influenced in particular by globalization which has led to the intensification of competition at all levels and the omnipotence of the market. The inversion of human capital - in other words, education, health, food security - is a long-term win-win for a population to narrow the gap in income inequality that divides it and therefore, to benefit from the opportunity to improve the quality of life.

With regard to economic practices, it is also possible to identify opportunities to work, to produce, to invest, to undertake, to consume "differently", by relying on the changes in our world that affect employment.



2. Changes in the world and change in work: an opportunity for the social and solidarity economy



At least five structural factors in our world are shaping the world of work more than ever: 1. demographic change, 2. technologies - in particular the digital revolution and new forms of production - 3. Globalization, which led to the intensification of competition and omnipotence of the market, 4. international migration and finally, 5. the depletion of natural resources and climate change.

With regard to demographic change, the population projections established by the United Nations up to 2100 indicate continued growth in the working-age population, growth almost entirely concentrated in developing countries. Indeed, there are currently 2 billion young people in the world who are less than 20 years old and we will go from 7.5 billion inhabitants to 11.2 billion people in 2100, according to forecasts and demographic statistics of the United Nations. On the one hand, there are many jobs to create, but on the other hand, it is the opportunity to create them "differently" therefore, with respect for people as ecological and cultural environments. SSE could thus become a lever for job creation.

Secondly, information and communication technologies, and more recently artificial intelligence, are leading to radical changes and leading to the modernization of the management of the world of work. The technological revolution and the global market economy - which is open to competition, liberalization of trade and capital flows - are strongly intertwined. Innovation, according to some researchers, has become a competitive weapon. In addition, new production models that rely on innovations have the main objective to reduce the share of human tasks in production and therefore reduce what is called "recurrent costs". These innovations can nonetheless be exploited and valued as driving forces for an economy that is both more generous and more just. Flint, for example, is an online collaborative platform that allows artificial intelligences to be found on the internet to find the most relevant information on a given theme. MyCo is a cooperative owned by Internet users, which promises users to regain control of their data.

Globalization is another factor that has profoundly changed the employment sector. It is characterized by the increase of international trade in goods and services and the movement of capital and people. It has led to the intensification of competition at all levels: from the inter-individual to between-states, thus generating a sense of threat from the other. However, new ways are to explore -. This is the idea of Zero Unemployment Territories which aims to reintegrate the long-term unemployed into the world of work by making the most of their capacity and creating a tailor-made professional project. Having a role in society generates self-esteem and social well-being.

Migrations linked to the impossibility of surviving in one's place of origin also bring to light the sense of threat generated by competitive logic: in these circumstances, the arrival of new workers would mean more competition between all of them. and, consequently, the employment of some will destroy that of others. But the labor market is not fixed: the amount of work is not a fixed quantity to share. It would be wise to recognize and value the innovative initiatives of migrants who prefer to undertake in the in-between territories and in the interstices of globalization than to wither away. They generate new businesses and activities that weave social bonds and mix societies and identities. The associative dynamics generated by migration include many examples of solidarity economy.

It is essential to manage migrations - internally or internationally - as a motivation of another type is being added to the long list of motivations to seek refuge elsewhere: it is the aggravation of effects of climate change and depletion of natural resources. Sub-Saharan Africa, South Asia and Latin America could be globally confronted with the presence of more than 140 million internal climate migrants by 2050. Residents will be forced to move because of drought, poor harvests, rising sea levels and worsening storm surges. It is also important to help people make the right choice to stay where they live or move where they will be less exposed to climate disruption. The Great Green Wall, a line of 8,000 km long trees and plants crossing the Sahel from the Atlantic coast of Senegal to the east coast of Djibouti, aims to stop desertification by supporting the local economy by increasing food security in this area of desertification.



3. Social and solidarity economy, a way to ensure sustainable development at the service of the population



There is a growing recognition that economic growth is not enough to reduce poverty if it is not beneficial to all and does not address the three dimensions of sustainable development, that is, economic, social and environmental. This is why social and solidarity economy is an economic and political choice that promotes economic practices with a positive social and environmental impact.

In fact, in many countries of the South, popular economy mobilizes large sections of the population, which shows that entrepreneurship is an engine of community-driven local development. Social entrepreneurship, as long as it meets the criteria of the ESS, articulates production, services and consumption. Transformations must therefore take this path of intrinsic links between producers and consumers who are facing a new world to build: a fair and inclusive world.

In the so-called developed countries, active labor force development policies have led to the emergence of initiatives to create economic activities aimed at integration. Although the issues are different between the countries of the South and the developed countries, the social and solidarity economy, or to associate to create value otherwise, is a way of favoring an endogenous, equitable, united, inclusive growth in order to have a real impact on sustainable development at the service of the people.


3.1 Sustainable development at the service of the people: a guideline for solidarity and social economy

Thus, it is not only a question of fighting poverty, inequality and economic insecurity, but it is also about finding durable solutions. Because of its local roots - in the community, neighborhood, territorial, rural or urban - but also regional, the ESS is able to contribute to establish a sustainable development that meets real needs, commonly identified by those who experience it.

SSE is mobilized for the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), especially with regard to housing, food, environmental protection, local development, promotion of women's rights and its emancipation, education, health and the energy transition or the transformation of funding modalities. In all these areas SSE offers quality services, the effectiveness of which is often highlighted through the notion of trust, citizen engagement, and public interest. Much more, it offers solutions, from the mobilization of mixed resources, public, private, common, making real proposals for sustainable solutions to major public challenges.

This major objective of sustainable development - composed of three facets namely, economic development, social development and environmental protection - is the guiding principle of the social and solidarity economic model.


[1] Banque Mondiale (2018), Open Knowledge, (Consultée le 3 septembre 2018), Lien : https://openknowledge.worldbank.org/bitstream/handle/10986/25078/9781464809583.pdf


* This article is written by ESSFI, GSEF communication working group member

The GSEF CWG (Communication Working Group) will explore the four central themes of the ‘GSEF2018 – Values and Competitiveness for Inclusive and Sustainable Local Development’ to highlight the significance of the topic and to provide background information for readers. Four CWG members will take on four topics respectively, and the writing will be covered via the GSEF newsletter featured article section.

Plan for covering the GSEF 2018 central theme

  1. Co-creation of public policies by RIPESS (Newsletter June edition)
  2. The contribution of the Social Economy to the Transformation of the territory by Montreal City and Chantier de l'économie sociale (Newsletter July edition)
  3. Challenges for the Growth of Social Economy Institutions by APAY (Newsletter Aug edition)
  4. The future of work and employment: the role of the Social Economy by ESSFI (Newsletter Sep edition)