The North East is set to capitalise on nearly 2,000 jobs and paid work experience opportunities for young people created by food giant Nestle.
Over the next three years Nestle has pledged to create 1,600 jobs for school-leavers and graduates, with a large number of those to be based at the firm’s Newcastle site.
Among those 1,600 jobs will be 300 paid work experience placements with opportunities from the shop floor to management training.
The move comes as a survey by Nestle showed teachers said good work experience was vital for getting young people into work, but many schools were failing to help them.
The firm’s factory in Fawdon is Nestle’s second biggest UK operation.
It currently employs 500 people and is set to benefit from the latest jobs boost, according to a company spokesman.
He said: “The exact number of job opportunities for the North East will come further down the line, but Fawdon is a significant site within the Nestle UK business.
“We expect a good number of those jobs announced to be at Fawdon.”
Work placements for young people will be for four weeks and will pay above the national minimum wage.
A study for Nestle showed that 79% of teachers stress the importance of work experience, but nearly a third (31%) said their school did not offer help to arrange work experience.
One in five teachers said they felt ill-equipped to give career advice.
And nine out of 10 businesses felt young people left school ill-equipped to start work, according to a survey of 250 employers. Two-thirds believed work experience was the best way of giving young people skills to find work.
Fiona Kendrick, Nestle chief executive, said: “With youth employment 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.
“Sadly young people in the UK and Ireland are stuck in a catch-22 situation. They can’t get a job without experience, but can’t get experience without a job.
“Companies need to help young people escape from this trap. As employers we value young people with experience, so we have to provide young people with enough opportunities to gain it.”
North East Chamber of Commerce (NECC) skills policy specialist, Helen Hayes, says this commitment by Nestle will go a long way towards helping tackle the youth unemployment crisis currently facing the region.
She said: “Having a global leader like Nestle demonstrate such a clear commitment to helping address the growing problem of youth unemployment as well as improving what is available to young people in terms of work experience is most welcome.
“NECC is committed to helping bring the worlds of education and business closer together to ensure that more students leaving school are ready for the working environment and aware of the needs of most businesses.
“There is a real appetite for this on both sides and some fantastic regional examples of successful engagement between schools and business, such as Esh Group’s partnership with Framwellgate Moor School, but more must be done.”