The second batch of students from the University of Kelaniya, who graduated from Nestlé’s professional marketing programme.
Nestlé’s youth employment programme supports young people to build knowledge and skills to find jobs and be successful in the workplace
More than 6,000 young Sri Lankans have received support to build skills and enhance their employability through the ‘Nestlé Needs YOUth’ initiative. Nestlé, which has a long tradition of recruiting young people directly from universities, launched the programme in 2016 to help address the issue of youth unemployment.
Since the initiative’s launch, Nestlé has strengthened its focus on offering young people employment opportunities. Currently close to 35% of Nestlé’s workforce is under 30 and more than 60% are millennials. It is also facilitating dual education (i.e. combining on-the-job training with university-based learning), which is a key success factor in bridging the gap between school and the workplace. Nestlé is also actively conducting work readiness activities, which prepares young people to seek or obtain employment and be successful in the workplace, placing a special focus on women and the differently abled.
Speaking on International Youth Day, Shivani Hegde, Nestlé Managing Director said: “Young women and men are the future of our societies and economies, and it is clear that traditional education is no longer enough. Nestlé is committed to investing in the next generation of talented young people, to help them build skills and be better prepared to enter the professional world, so they improve their chances in a challenging job market. It will be hard to thrive as a corporation, and help the communities we are part of to grow, unless we can hone the skills of young people who will drive the next wave of development. Making a significant and sustainable impact on the community, by supporting youth employment, is a very real way of living our purpose of enhancing quality of life and contributing to a healthier future.”
As a part of its ‘Nestlé Needs YOUth’ initiative, Nestlé has several programmes which have helped 6,000 youth become more employable over the last two years. It is facilitating dual education via internships, and a professional marketing programme taught by Nestlé Managers to students from the University of Kelaniya. The programme offers an additional professional marketing qualification on top of students’ degrees, where they learn 15 subjects covering Collaboration, Leadership, Innovation and Personal Development. The sessions are held at Nestlé’s Training Centre in its head office, where Nestlé employees share theoretical and practical applications using various training interventions. Students also participate in field visits across the island for insights and experience of the market. The top 10 students receive sales training stints with the company for six months on completion of the programme.
Nestlé’s Trainee Engineering Programme in its factory in Kurunegala also provides engineering graduates an all-round comprehensive training and work familiarisation, to give them solid work experience that will serve them well in their engineering careers. Good performers are offered employment within the company.
Through its NERI (Nestlé Education Responsibility Initiative) Programme, Nestlé also conducts work readiness sessions for university students on CV writing, facing interviews, career guidance, and tips to succeed at the workplace, through digital media, job fairs and workshops.
It’s WIN (Women in Nestlé) volunteer group, formed to support female employees, is now providing readiness-for-work workshops for both female and male students from rural universities, as well as differently abled young adults.
The company’s focus on developing youth extends to its own employees. Its comprehensive 18 month Management Trainee Programme, which has been successful for years, is a significant initiative in developing young people to be the company’s future leaders. Many of the company’s senior management, including its Managing Director, joined Nestlé as Management Trainees. Nestlé’s ‘I-Tomorrow’s Leader Programme’ also offers young talent within the company accelerated training and development modeled after a mini MBA, with high performers offered assignments overseas to support them in paving long-term careers with Nestlé.
Said Enoca Sirimanne, Vice President - Human Resources at Nestlé: “Unemployment and under-employment are serious concerns for youth across the world, including in Sri Lanka. With work dynamics perpetually changing today, ‘learning agility’ is in increasing demand as a core competence, and we believe our youth employment initiative is making a real impact in achieving this. In addition, we have set the foundation for a modern, youth-friendly culture and work environment, with a number of resources and extracurricular activities on-site. I am proud to note that almost all of our youth employment activities are driven by our own employees on a voluntary basis, who take the time to share their learnings and experiences and develop the next generation of leaders. Our people shape who we are as a company and I’m proud that making a difference and living our purpose starts with them.”