Businesses must take control of bringing new talent through the ranks and working with 'can-do' education providers like Sheffield Hallam University to support that, according to the Chairman and CEO of Nestlé UK and Ireland.
Dame Fiona Kendrick praised Sheffield Hallam for its innovative and outward-looking business education provision during a guest lecture at the University.
She also spoke about productivity being a key driver for success and the importance of empowering managers to get the best out of the skilled labour and the technology at their disposal.
The comments were made to a packed audience of regional business leaders, students and University staff during the annual Sheffield Management Lecture, organised by Sheffield Hallam's Business School.
Dame Fiona said: "Companies need to look creatively at how we can bring young people into the heart of the business and develop their skills.
"Sheffield Hallam has an outstanding reputation for business education and is among the most can-do universities in terms of how it reaches out to the private sector to give the best possible opportunities to graduates."
Dame Fiona also discussed Brexit and the challenges it brings to a large multi-national company.
She added: "Nestlé’s investments at our manufacturing sites here in Yorkshire and the wider North of England – £600 million in recent years in cutting edge technology, skills and production for the domestic and export markets – and the investment by the food and drink industry as a whole are all about securing our future.
"Part of that investment in our future will of course depend on our being able to retain and enhance our international trading relationships, including with the rest of Europe, where as a country we face some difficult choices about how to maintain trade while implementing the referendum decision to leave the EU."
Professor Kevin Kerrigan, Dean of Sheffield Business School, said: "We were delighted to host Dame Fiona and her insight and candour about the challenges facing Nestlé and the wider food and drink industry were fascinating.
"To be able to offer our students the opportunity to hear from such an inspirational business leader is fantastic for Sheffield Hallam and demonstrates our close links with industry which is reflected in our teaching."
Notes to editors:
Nestlé has worked closely with Sheffield Hallam University for several years on a number of innovative work based learning initiatives, including the Chartered Manager Degree Apprenticeship programme.
Dame Fiona received an honorary doctorate from the University in 2015 for her distinguished contribution to the food and drink sector and her outstanding work in promoting skills development and university-industry collaboration.