Anna Kucinska
13 February 2015

How many jobs does the social economy sector in Poland create?

During 8th National Conference on Social Economy in Warsaw, Poland, during one of the thematic panel sessions experts tried to estimate how many jobs the social economy sector creates and what their quality and value are.
Karolina Goś-Wójcicka, from the Department of Research on Social Economy at the Central Statistical Office of Poland, presented basic data on Poland’s social economy sector. It can be divided into two subsectors: co-operatives, including social co-operatives, and non-profits that encompass non-governmental organisations, social dialogue organisations and political parties. The first subsector employed 262,000 people in 2012 and the second one 123,000 people. The third group are establishments which offer social and professional integration – the professional activation establishments, social integration centres and so on, their impact and potential is however more difficult to estimate because of the lack of data. In total the two subsectors account for nearly 4% of jobs in Poland’s economy and 3% of the employed. The difference is that in these statistics employers are also counted among the employed. Goś-Wójcicka also pointed out that the number of jobs in co-operatives is shrinking. Only in last 7 years a quarter of jobs have been lost in this subsector, mainly in large co-operatives. At the same time the non-profit subsector has generated a quarter of new jobs. However, altogether the social economy sector lost nearly 50,000 jobs between 2007 and 2010, which represents one ninth of all its jobs.
Marta Gumkowska, from the Klon/Jawor Association , focused on non-profit organisations which run business activities or provide paid services. - 61% of them employ people who work at least one day a month, irrespective of the form of employment. 40% of these organisations employ at least one person on the basis of a contract of employment. Only 17% employ two or more people. Altogether non-profit organisations provide over 100,000 jobs, therefore when grouped together they turn out to be a larger employer than any other business employer in Poland.  
Małgorzata Ołdak, from the Institute of Social Policy at the University of Warsaw, described the situation in another segment of the social economy – social co-operatives. - On 19 September 2014, 1,221 social co-operatives were registered in the National Court Register. It is said that a half of them work. However, there may be about 200-300 social co-operatives which are really developing. According to Ołdak, it is therefore difficult to estimate their impact. There are institutions which do not want to collect data about these co-operatives, of which two are the most reluctant – the Finance Ministry and the Social Insurance Institution (ZUS).
Aleksandra Andrzejewska, from the Regional Centre for Social Policy in Poznan, indicated that requirements regarding reporting, even at the level of support programmes for the social economy, are quite lax, which impedes the assessment of effectiveness of particular measures. Often institutions responsible for monitoring and evaluation are more interested in financial implementation of a programme than its actual impact and results.
The panelists pointed out that the lack of information about social economy organisations results from a number of overlapping conditions and factors. Small organisations or co-operatives constitute an important part of the sector. – For many of new, emerging organisations each additional reporting requirement is quite a burden and organisations are reluctant to commit to them. For this reason a lot of them avoids business activity, running paid activities or providing paid services. This shows the lack of competences of their staff but also proves the lack of sufficient support from the institutions which are responsible for supporting the social economy, argued Gumkowska. Certain procedures or requirements could be simplified. In addition, a number of institutions collect data about social economy organisations and non-profits but each does it in a different manner, therefore the data is often incompatible and hard to compare and aggregate.
The panelists agreed that it is necessary to have solid data about the social economy sector in order to be able to evaluate its impact and the effectiveness of public support for it. Both decision-makers responsible for public policies and social economy regional actors and activists need to know more, have access to more information. 
Source: Łukasz Komuda, Ile miejsc pracy tworzy ekonomia społeczna,