Youth and International Development: Motivating the Next Generation

First introduced in 2001, World Council of Credit Union’s Young Credit Union Professionals Program (WYCUP) encourages credit union organizations to commit to involving youth and young professionals in national and international credit union movements.

Upon the board’s approval of the program, chief operating officer Brian Branch commented, “I’m very excited by the commitment of the board of directors to set the example for credit union movements to involve the next generation in our international activities.  “This is a great way to motivate the next generation to get involved in and commit to the credit union movement.”

By recognizing and promoting the next generation of leaders in the international system WOCCU aims to ensure the future sustainability of the international credit union system. Credit unions and credit union organizations affiliated with World Council are encouraged to participate in this aim by identifying and nominating their next generation of credit union leaders, aged 35 and under, to compete for the WYCUP scholarship, an all expense-paid opportunity to attend the World Credit Union Conference the following year.  Several credit union organizations have organized national competitions to select their representative most deserving of sponsorship to compete in this international forum and others are fortunate enough to have the funds to send multiple nominees.

WOCCU’s World Credit Union Conference offers the ideal environment for young professionals to broaden their perspectives on the international credit union movement, learn about the newest trends in credit union development and network with other credit union leaders, particularly their young professional peers. WYCUP nominees are uniquely recognized at the conference and are invited to take part in events organized specifically for those ages 35 and under.  Prior conference locations include: France, Poland, Australia, and the Bahamas.  Winners of the 2004 Scholarship will attend this year’s conference in Rome, Italy, and in 2006 nominees will head to Dublin, Ireland.

The WYCUP committee looks to reward those individuals who have already made a significant contribution to the development of their credit union, regional or national credit union system and also have the potential contribute to the international credit union movement.  "We will be looking specifically at the nominees' personal commitment to fostering and engaging youth involvement in the credit union movements of their respective countries,” 2004 WYCYP chairman Gregorz Bierecki said of the committee’s role.

In its first year, WYCUP nominees numbered twenty-three individuals from nine different countries.  In following three years, the number of nominees increased to over thirty individuals from as many as twelve different countries.  “The number of nominations received from credit union organizations throughout the world proves that there is a great need for such an initiative to be championed by WOCCU,” said Bierecki. “We aim to effectively assist young professionals in recognizing genuine career opportunities and gradually assuming leadership positions within the international credit union movement.”

Winners have hailed from locations as diverse as Australia, the Bahamas, Canada, Ireland, Jamaica, Malawi, New Zealand, Peru, Poland, Scotland, Trinidad, and the United States. “Being a WYCUP participant was one of the most rewarding career experiences for me,” declared 2003 WYCUP scholarship winner Malcolm Stoffman, marketing and communications manager of Teachers Credit Union in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada.  “It was a one of a kind opportunity to sit down with managers, CEOs and board chairmen of national and international organizations to discuss the challenges facing young leaders today.  Participating in the WYCUP program also provided me with a number of additional opportunities.  Since winning the WYCUP scholarship, I have been asked to speak on youth issues at credit union events and invited to join a cooperative management program in England.”

Skott Pope, vice president of education and development for Washington Credit Union League and 2002 WYCUP scholarship winner, said, “Participating in the WYCUP program was the highlight of my career.  The connections I have made with credit union professionals around the world help keep me motivated, have given me new ideas to help my organization and have made me feel like I'm connected to the greater good of the movement. I cannot express the difference that it has made in both my personal and professional life.”

Creator - Author(s) Name and Title(s): 
World Council of Credit Unions, Inc.
Publication Information: 
Youth Reinventing Co-operatives: Young Perspectives on the International Co-operative Movement – (Eds.) Robin Puga, Julia Smith, and Ian MacPherson
Saturday, January 1, 2005
Publisher Information: 
New Rochdale Press, British Columbia Institute for Co-operative Studies