Nestlé UK and Ireland today announced it will create 1,900 employment opportunities for young people over the next three years, including 300 paid work experience placements.
More than 600 employment opportunities will be available each year, including roles across all areas of the business and at all levels – from operators on the factory floor to field sales assistants and business management.
The programme is part of Nestlé’s European Youth Employment Initiative which will help 20,000 people across Europe under the age of 30 find employment; offering 10,000 jobs and creating 10,000 apprentice positions and traineeships by 2016.
Nearly one million young people (16-24) are unemployed in the UK, while youth unemployment in Ireland is nearly 30 per cent.
The announcement comes as a new Populus study out today highlights that current work experience programmes are resulting in young people being unable to develop the necessary skills for the workplace.
The study, commissioned by Nestlé, highlighted that nine out of 10 businesses felt young people left school ill-equipped to start work. In addition, despite 62 per cent of business leaders believing that only work experience could give young people the skills they needed to gain employment, only a third (30 per cent) felt that they got any value out of offering it.
The majority of teachers (79 per cent) and students (62 per cent) agreed that work experience was important to prepare young people for employment, but the survey showed that the quality of work experience offered was often not up to par, with only a third of young people (35 per cent) given any training while on the job and only 56 per cent having the opportunity to shadow an employee and learn about the business they were working in.
Nestlé UK & Ireland CEO Fiona Kendrick said: “With youth unemployment steadily rising we all need to play our part in creating opportunities for the next generation. Attracting new talent and investing in future skills is key to the continued success of our business, which is why we are offering school leavers, university students and graduates the chance to gain experience throughout our business.”
“Sadly young people in the UK and Ireland are stuck in a catch-22 situation. They can’t get a job without experience, but can’t get experience without a job. Companies need to help young people escape from this trap. As employers we value young people with experience, so we have to provide young people with enough opportunities to gain it.”
Ms Kendrick, who was appointed a Commissioner for the UK Commission for Employment and Skills in 2013 added: “Industry must step up and help young people bridge the gap between education and employment. We cannot leave this problem to the Government and schools. We need to work together to help young people – and to develop the next generation of skilled employees for the future.”
Deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg MP:
“Helping young people from all backgrounds move from school to the world of work is key to helping our future workforce achieve their potential. I am pleased to support the Nestlé Youth Employment Initiative which will really help raise aspirations and open doors to a new generation of talent. In challenging economic times, the commitment to offer employment opportunities to career-hungry young people is a commendable initiative.”
Minister for Skills and Enterprise, Matthew Hancock said:
"The food & drink industry is facing a pressing skills gap and it is critical that businesses take action to engage and attract young people into the sector. I welcome all businesses who offer high quality work experience, which is vital for youngsters and firms to bridge the gap between school, college and work and help build a talent pipeline for the future. It is encouraging that Nestlé, as a large UK employer, are helping to open up opportunities for young people across their business."
Working with suppliers PMP Recruitment and McCurrach Nestlé will offer paid work experience within its factories, offices and sales teams to young people in local communities close to Nestlé sites. Nestlé is also partnering with social enterprise group MyKindaCrowd to offer skills and employability training to over 12,000 school and college students.
Will Ackerman, managing director of MyKindaCrowd, said: “The key to creating our future workforce lies in giving young people the opportunity to learn practical skills and experience that are relevant for business. Nestle’s initiative is leading the way in bringing together businesses and education establishments to provide opportunities for all young people.”
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Today’s announcement builds on the work of the Nestlé Academy launched in 2011, which tackles the industry skills issue at all levels offering internships, graduates, apprentices and placements. In September 2013 Nestlé opened its Fast Start Programme opening up opportunities for A Level students who may not have seen a degree as an option for them. Participants gain experience by completing six month placements in Nestlé commercial functions while at the same time studying towards a degree in Professional Business Practice at Sheffield Hallam University.
Today’s announcement is part of Nestlé’s European Youth Employment initiative that was launched in Athens this morning, in the presence of Laurent Freixe, Head of Zone Europe at Nestlé SA, the EU commissioner for Education Androulla Vassiliou and the Greek Prime Minister Antonis Samaras. It is a European-wide initiative, by Nestlé - the first of its kind - to help young people across Europe, where youth employment is at crisis levels, get skilled and get hired.