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Nestlé are “stepping up to meet the youth employment challenge” but are they writing off talent over 30?

by on November 22, 2013

Why Nestlé is stepping up to meet the youth employment challenge is a blog post written by Fiona Kendrick (CEO of Nestle) for a UK Government blog.  Fiona’s credentials are set out but her age unspecified, though potentially calculable since the blog states she joined Nestle as a graduate in 1980.

Youth are not defined in the blog, except in reference to the scheme being associated with a European wide initiative for the under-30s .  There a concern that “the industry is currently relying on an ageing workforce to support growth, without a pipeline of young people that could potentially be managers and leaders for the future. At Nestlé more than 50% of our skilled manufacturing team will retire in the next 15 years”.

This is interesting on a number of fronts.  Firstly, now there is no mandatory retirement age in the UK the last statement must be a best guess rather than a fact (they might retire, but its not a definite).  Secondly, why is “relying on an ageing workforce” seen as an inherent problem?  And thirdly, why can only (the undefined) young be “managers and leaders” in the future?  There seem to be to be a lot of assumptions here about the associations between age and work that are not clearly spelled out.  Government statistics suggest that there are issues associated with youth (in this case usually measured at 16-24) unemployment but that is not the only chronological category facing challenges accessing work.  That is not to underestimate the issue of youth unemployment but rather to prompt some consideration of how that “problem” is presented, as here, in relation another “problem” of “ageing”, and in particular the effect of associating talent and age.

I followed the link from the blog to the webpages to the Nestle Academy and intriguingly (though given the discrimination legislation unsurprisingly) not a mention of age or specified age ranges anywhere on these pages.  Age is probably inferred through such terms as school leaver and graduate.  However I am both of these yet also in my forties!  The blog states that the scheme will create “1,900 employment opportunities in the UK and Ireland for young people over the next three years” as part of a broader scheme aimed at those under 30, though this is not clear from their actual recruitment pages.

One Comment
  1. Reblogged this on Finish Learning, Start Earning and commented:
    Take a look at this and see why Nestlé are trying to meet the youth unemployment challenge.

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