Given the realities of today’s challenging job market, there is no doubt Canadians who are graduating and looking to land their dream job are facing a tough time. It doesn’t seem to be getting any easier for this demographic to secure gainful employment, let alone an internship or training program in their field of study.
The age old adage “You can’t get a job without experience and you can’t get experience without a job” has never been more true. Now more than ever, Canadian leaders in the private sector need to step up and invest in the future of one of our most valuable resources — our youth.
It is no surprise younger Canadians are increasingly anxious when it comes to job prospects. Only 25 per cent of Canadians say their place of employment offers intern or apprenticeship programs to help youth gain entry level experience, according to a 2015 survey of 1,555 people by Nestlé.
To address this gap, Nestlé Canada launched Youth Initiative in Canada last fall as an extension of its Global Youth Initiative, which is committed to offering more than 5,000 youth the opportunity to develop their professional skills, increase their employability and expand their network. In just a few months, 1,800 young Canadians have already been involved.
The youth initiative addresses an important need — helping students develop the necessary skills to prepare for the workforce while also building a pipeline for the next generation of leaders. By providing internships, formalized training programs and “readiness for work activities,” Nestlé is committed to helping young adults make the important transition from education to careers and to prepare for their future.
As a mother of two daughters in university, I see firsthand the value of the initiative. As well, this demographic brings a significant amount of value to the workforce through their fresh perspectives and insights into today’s trends and latest innovations. In fact, a majority of Canadians (85 per cent) agree youth are a dynamic force in the workplace, according to the Nestlé survey, and the strongest skills and qualities this demographic brings to the table are social media expertise (68 per cent) and IT knowledge (65 per cent).
At its core, the Youth Initiative is grounded by four pillars — get hired, get skilled, get support and get more opportunities — that are fundamental for setting youth up for success in their careers. Whether they continue to work at Nestlé or move on to another workplace, the experience youth will gain from our program will provide the foundation for a successful career trajectory.
The roles offered through the Youth Initiative span across multiple business areas, providing a range of opportunities for those interested in a variety of careers including: sales, marketing, supply chain, finance, human resources, information technology and opportunities within the factory such as the operational management trainee program. National opportunities are available within both sales and retail. Each will be an opportunity to learn and grow.
In May, Nestlé is launching a Rotational Associate Program. This structured 24-month program will have associates engaged and challenged to meet learning objectives established in sales, marketing, supply chain and finance. Successful graduates are placed in a specialized role based on functional competencies and preferences.
Through this pillar, the company is committed to increase new grad hires by five per cent through formalized graduate programs and entry level positions and will hire more than 1,300 employees under the age of 30 by 2018.
The unequivocal value of tangible training opportunities will continue to increase as the job market becomes more competitive. Having a degree is now often considered the base requirement rather than providing a leg up. It’s actual hands-on training and experiences that are the expectation at every job interview.
“Getting skilled” is all about providing hands-on experiences to create and build a brighter future for youth — one that is shaped on professional skills and practical experience. Internships provide and offer youth an opportunity to gain real work experience and strengthen their professional development, making them more employable for the future.
The program is different because interns are brought into the boardroom. For example, as a marketing intern, students are involved with anything from packaging design and social media campaigns to specific marketing executions.
As supply chain interns, students have the opportunity to work on dedicated projects within functional areas including demand and supply planning, physical logistics and customer service.
As part of the Youth Initiative, Nestlé is committed to increasing internship opportunities by 25 per cent over three years — translating to more than 350 interns and trainees under 30 by 2018.
The transition from university or college to the workforce can be difficult and many young adults lack the support to lead them to success. Nestlé offers “readiness to work activities” including networking events, career counselling and interview training and recruitment workshops at universities and colleges across Canada.
The company is participating in on-campus events, speaking and connecting with millennials, discussing career opportunities and sharing advice. Engaging with this thriving demographic is truly a win-win situation — they are learning from us and we are learning so much from them.
Nestlé is also working directly with business schools. For example, it is the sponsor of the national 2016 Queen’s Marketing Association Conference (QMAC) Case Competition and will work with the winning team who secure a paid internship at Nestlé this summer.
By playing an active role on campuses across Canada and providing students with the networking and career counselling opportunities, Nestlé has already reached more than 1,450 youth in 2015 and looks forward to reaching more students each year.
Get more opportunities
There should be no boundaries to helping youth prepare for a bright future and a career they love. Beyond providing practical work experience and training opportunities, corporations dedicated to supporting youth grow need to expand their reach to ensure internship and work opportunities are plentiful across sectors.
Nestlé is connecting with business partners to build an alliance for youth and developing a number of joint initiatives to provide meaningful work experience, internship and training opportunities across the board.
The three-year Youth Initiative has already gained a lot of interest and attraction. The number of applications to the summer and internship opportunities has doubled and in 2015, Nestlé increased the number of summer jobs and internship opportunities by 16 per cent.
There is still more work to be done but we are proud to be off to a great start in creating opportunities for today’s youth.
Shelley Martin is president and CEO of Nestlé Canada. For further information on the program, visit www.corporate.nestle.ca/en/careers/youth-initiative.
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