Nestle to Expand Youth Job Program to 10 Million Across Globe

  • Broadened initiative to include farmers, entrepreneurs
  • Nestle says program may prevent potential shortage of talent

Nestle SA is expanding the scope of a job-creation program to help persuade more young people to become farmers as the world faces the challenge of feeding nearly 10 billion people by 2050.

The Vevey, Switzerland-based food giant said it would help train farmers to develop crops and improve incomes and would focus on instilling business skills in young people as it expands the job-creation program, started in 2013. The company aims to help 10 million young people find jobs by 2030, said Laurent Freixe, Nestle’s head of Americas.

“We have factories in rural and industrial areas and we can provide jobs in head offices or retail offices -- there’s not just one type of job,” Freixe said in a phone interview. “Through our more than 100,000 business partners, we can help them join culinary careers, expose them to work in advertising, banking, distribution, logistics and packaging.”

Corporate social responsibility efforts by companies from Unilever to Wal-Mart Stores Inc. are proliferating as consumers express preference for good corporate citizens and executives embrace the priority. Nestle’s new plan builds on its previous efforts to help reduce youth unemployment, which the International Labour Organization estimates at 71 million worldwide.

The program now will include dispatching engineers to help young farmers develop crops and improve incomes, along with providing entrepreneurs with training and easier access to equipment. Chief Executive Officer Mark Schneider was to announce the new goals to the United Nations in New York on Monday.

Nestle, the world’s largest food company, reported 2016 revenue of 89.5 billion Swiss francs ($93 billion). It has said its restructuring costs will rise to about 500 million francs this year from 300 million francs last year and has announced hundreds of job cuts, in Switzerland, Italy, the U.K. and elsewhere.

The company’s youth initiative is “driven by business needs,” a Nestle spokeswoman said. “This program allows us to prevent a potential shortage of talent by offering a first job opportunity, by training young talents, by helping young farmers, young entrepreneurs.”

Freixe said thousands of Nestle employees volunteer in the program, and that the company isn’t using the effort to replace older employees with a younger, cheaper workforce.

“We want to keep people with more experience,” Freixe said. “But we have to replace the baby boomers who are getting to retirement age and our businesses are expanding, so we need people, especially in digital. We’re helping young people join the general workforce, not just our company.”

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