Business Ownership Of Skills

An important factor in company level productivity in the UK is the skill set of entry-level workers. Employers invest in the skills of new entrants as an alternative to hiring more experienced people, partly on grounds of cost but also for the opportunity to shape ways of working around specific technologies and processes and particular company values.

Getting this right is a strategic imperative for companies like Nestlé, with half of the sector's current workforce due to retire in the next two decades. There risks being a short- term productivity impact over this period as basic workplace skills and behaviours are learned – unless the basics are better established by the general education system. This can be mitigated by earlier identification and training of potential employees still in formal education, and broadening the talent pool by promoting STEM subjects.

However, this role for the education system does not remove the crucial role of employers in taking responsibility for their own talent pipeline, whether at a company or a sectoral/supply chain level. This means engaging with schools and colleges in the design of curricula, as well as reaching out to students to highlight potential career opportunities.

As well as increasing participation in government endorsed models for workplace learning, such as apprenticeships, companies like Nestlé are also investing in their own in-house training. Some of Nestlé’s own factories are accredited as Further Education providers in their own right. Nestlé’s role in designing Trailblazer apprenticeships standards shows recognition that getting the quality of training right will be crucial for increasing demand among young people, and consequently for meeting the target of three million apprenticeships by 2020.

There are also promising signs that competitive pressure on FE colleges is paying off in a greater responsiveness to employers’ needs and interest in genuinely partnering with employers. Ambitious savings targets for Further Education colleges will require businesses to step in to help maintain quality and coverage, but this in turn will require businesses to take greater responsibility for guiding and directing training providers as part of developing their long-term talent pipelines.

The Nestlé Talent Pipeline


Nestlé hires 50 factory-level apprentices per year for manufacturing and engineering across the UK, combining on-site and FE college training in STEM, mechatronics and other key skills for advanced manufacturing. These locally-anchored employees are highly adaptable to Nestlé concepts such as Nestlé Continuous Excellence and advanced process management.

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Nestlé's Chartered Manager Degree Apprenticeship programme combines salaried work experience in commercial and functional roles, with block-release study towards a fully funded, three year business degree at Sheffield Hallam. Talented school leavers develop a blend of generic and specialised practical skills for leadership roles.

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Nestlé graduate recruitment provides real jobs from day one with structured personal development mentored by a senior manager. Nestlé graduate recruits are adaptable across the business, with the company's investment in them often creating strong loyalty.

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As part of Nestlé's commitment to offering 20,000 youth employment opportunities across Europe by 2016, Nestlé in the UK is engaging with 4,000 young people in schools, placing 75 in work experience programmes, offering internships and work placements to undergraduates and reaching thousands more young people online to raise awareness of the STEM and other career opportunities the business has to offer.

Fast Start: Developing Nestlé’s Future Leaders

A new route to career success. Nestlé is a co-founder of the Chartered Manager Degree Apprentice­ship, launched in 2015, and developed in partnership with the Chartered Management Institute and 20 employers from across all sectors. An evolution of Nestlé’s own in-house Fast Start programme for school leavers, launched two years previously and designed in collaboration with Sheffield Business School, the programme gives young people real, full-time responsibility from day one at the heart of Nestlé’s commercial functions, while paying them a salary and enabling them to study for a fully-funded business degree. The programme combines the practical focus of an apprenticeship with the functional and geographical mobility of a graduate training programme. On completing the scheme, employees receive Chartered Manager status, a permanent job offer from Nestlé and, crucially, an invaluable head start towards becoming the future leaders of the business.


Fast Start is a three year program combining placements inside Nestlé and formal training leading to a business degree

Learning From The Nestlé Experience

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In designing its incentives for companies to recruit and train more young people – such as the proposed apprenticeships levy – government should recognise the diversity of companies’ approaches and the need to link them with high quality entry level jobs. As with ‘free schools’, diversity matters in the apprenticeships model.

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The creation of new ‘Institutes of Technology’ is an opportunity for a step-change in employer-provider collaboration and a food and drink site for the National College for Advanced Manufacturing could offer an important opportunity to prove the concept.

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Many schools have welcomed large employers supporting careers advice for students but too many remain unclear of the rules for this. The government should make it clear that this is a welcome contribution to tackling the national shortage of STEM-qualified students, emphasising why these skills are important. SMEs should also be encouraged to participate, recognising the limits to their resources.