‘I want a network of young people creating a different economy’
31 October 2014 - Impact Hub

With young people trapped between unemployment and underemployment, the political response is too paternalistic, says new organisation AltGen. Launching an award for new co-operative enterprises, it is encouraging 18-29-year-olds to shape their own futures.

Positive News speaks to Hubber Rhiannon Colvin, founder of AlGen.

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“I’m glad there’s an economic crisis.”
It’s not something you hear very often, but 25-year-old Rhiannon Colvin believes that the global economic crash of 2008 and its aftermath have presented the perfect opportunity for her generation to start creating a new economy.
“I’m not glad that people are unemployed,” she continues, “but I don’t believe in this economy and how it works. It’s very unsustainable, very unequal and young people are exploited.”
As co-founder and director of start-up business AltGen, that’s what Colvin hopes to change. Launched in May, AltGen is helping 18-29-year-olds set up their own worker co-ops – businesses owned and managed by their employees – in an effort to help tackle the UK’s youth unemployment crisis.
Although employment figures released in October suggest that such an approach might not be necessary – UK unemployment fell to less than two million for the first time since 2008 – the headlines arguably failed to reveal the full picture. The same data shows that since 2008 the type of employment people are in is shifting, with now nearly one million more people in part-time work and almost one million more freelancers than there were six years ago.
“When you look at the kind of jobs being created, barely any of them are full-time, secure and with rights,” says Colvin. “It’s not just unemployment, but it’s underemployment.”
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