I wholeheartedly endorse Denis Pennel's call for greater public- and private-sector co-operation to tackle youth unemployment (“Give young people the skills to work”, 15-21 November).
I would also like to take his argument one stage further, by encouraging more employers to see the benefits young people can bring to their organisations.
At McDonald's, 75% of our 415,000-strong European workforce are under 25, so we see first-hand the benefits of employing young people. By aligning as many of our core development programmes as possible to nationally recognised qualifications, we are able to create a valuable employment experience for our people. Furthermore, there is also clear evidence that this also drives customer-service levels and employee pride and commitment up – and staff turnover down. A clear win-win situation for the business and its people.
For these reasons, other businesses might benefit from taking practical steps to provide quality employment opportunities, as well as implementing measures to boost the employability of young people in the communities in which they operate.
For example, businesses could take a fresh look at the way they recruit. Employers can often miss out on exciting new talent by relying on word-of-mouth recruitment processes that exclude young people who are not plugged in to the necessary networks.
Businesses can also help enhance the employability of young people – and identify future talent – by hosting work experience, visiting schools to give talks and guidance, supporting volunteering initiatives, and mentoring a young person as they look for employment.
For me, being a good neighbour to the young people in our communities during these tough economic times makes sense, because they will remember for the rest of their lives how we treated them. Young people are tomorrow's customers, taxpayers, parents and opinion-formers, and the way employers treat them today will have a massive influence on the choices they will make and on the things they will say about us in the future.