Participation in Social Enterprises by Young People from the Perspective of Labor Force Development
In recent years, an increasingly number of young people have joined the social enterprise movement, including Sunny Lin of Social Enterprise Insights and Kevin Chen of ELIV. To encourage young people to participate more actively in the community and social innovation businesses, the Bureau provides subsidies to persons engaging in activities associated with social enterprise innovation and social entrepreneurship. The purpose is to expand the public's knowledge of social enterprises and raise awareness among young people regarding social innovation issues by providing an appropriate level of support to organizations dedicated to these efforts. For example, we continue to participate in the Empowerment Network for Social Innovation Talents (ENSIT), an initiative subsidized by the Ministry of Education and implemented by a team of six institutions of higher education led by National Taiwan University. We also collaborate with the ROC New Life Social Welfare Development and Promotion Association on the Social Innovation Bus (SIB) program, conceived and implemented by Ting-shuo Hu.
Via a separate approach, we have helped non-profit organizations with economic value and social missions to transform into social enterprises through the Employment Empowerment Program. The criteria for qualifying for the subsidy include: whether an organization is able to employ innovative business practices and if the associated industry has long-term viability and sustainability in the local community. Although the areas of subsidy are similar to those of another program we have introduced in the past, the Multi-Employment Promotion Program, which focused on employment allowances, under the policy of "removing barriers," this program is viewed as a type of social investment in the local community and therefore giving employment priority to members of disadvantaged groups (e.g. persons with disabilities and senior and middle-aged persons) has been canceled. This allows non-profit organizations the freedom to employ anyone deemed necessary and provides the local community with new blood so that innovation and growth opportunity as well as capacity can become a reality. This program has enabled young people who would like to return to their hometowns but have no career opportunities available to them to find jobs that provide economic security, a chance to utilize their skills and knowledge, and a way to do work that is beneficial to society.
A case regarding the Community Empowerment Association in Xinhua District of Tainan City illustrates this point. Through empowerment programs, the Association has been able to recruit many young people to return to Xinhua to help build in-depth tourism as well as cultural and creative industries in the community. The objective of its three-year plan is to create social enterprises with self-reliant, long-term viability and sustainable development. One of the designers indicates that although she majored in early childhood care and education in college, she was able to acquire a second set of skills through participation in the Bureau's Youth Employment Excellence program. She was recruited by the empowerment program, which was incidentally in need of her expertise. Upon completion of the training program she was able to find a job locally and engage in meaningful community revitalization work and help rebuild local industries. She is very satisfied with the results. In addition, she has a young child who is one-and-a-half years old. If it were not for the empowerment program, she would not have the chance to utilize her expertise while honing her skills in graphic design, and she would have to commute to another location to work or even move to another city. Project manager Wan-ting Su also points out that the empowerment program brings together many members of the younger generation who are originally from Xinhua but had to move to the big city for career reasons. They want to make a contribution to Xinhua and revitalize their hometown so that it can return to its past glory, the way the older generation remembers it. Currently the project is committed to persuading tourists who usually visit the Old Street only briefly to join guided tours on community history and culture as well as visit new marketplaces with local characteristics.
In the future, when the plan to designate labor force development as organizational transformation has been finalized, the Bureau will take on youth entrepreneurship loan services and help young people to start up social enterprises, as well as provide business start-up advisory services such as business consulting and industry experience sharing. This will allow young people who are interested in creating new social enterprises to obtain the resources that they need. All of this will be an important priority in our work.