Nestlé UK and Ireland has announced the creation of 1,900 employment opportunities for young people over the next three years, including 300 paid work experience placements.
More than 600 roles will be available each year, in all areas of the business, from operators on the factory floor to field sales assistants and business managers.
The programme, part of Nestlé's European Youth Employment Initiative, 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.
The announcement comes alongside a Populus study commissioned by Nestlé, highlighting that nine out of 10 businesses felt young people left school ill-equipped to start work. In addition, although 62% of business leaders felt that only work experience could give young people the skills they needed to gain employment, only 30% felt that they got any value out of offering it.
The survey showed that the quality of work experience offered was often not up to par, with only 35% given any training while on the job and only 56% given the chance to shadow an employee and learn about the business they were working in.
Fiona Kendrick, CEO of Nestlé UK & Ireland, 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."
Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said: "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.
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.
Anyone interested in applying can email NestleNeedsYouth@uk.nestle.com or to find out more visit www.nestleneedsyouth.co.uk