McDonald's reduces barriers to youth employment

 August 30, 2018

McDonald’s has announced a new initiative called Youth Opportunity, with a global goal to reduce barriers to employment for two million young people by 2025 through pre-employment job readiness training, employment opportunities and workplace development programs.

As part of this goal, McDonald’s is also joining the Global Initiative on Decent Jobs for Youth, led by the International Labour Organization (ILO), to help accelerate global efforts to tackle the youth employment challenge.

Job readiness for young people

To kick off this initiative, the company will distribute $1 million in grants to local community organizations in Chicago to deliver job readiness training for young people who have less access to opportunities. McDonald’s will distribute a further $1 million in grant money to Skills for Chicagoland’s Future to develop a new apprenticeship program with City Colleges of Chicago. In Europe, McDonald’s, including participating franchisees, has also pledged to offer 43,000 apprenticeships by 2025 as one of the workplace development programs people can access.

“With 64 million young people unemployed worldwide, the youth employment challenge is vast and affects all countries. This new initiative by McDonald’s has the potential to support many young women and men, especially in disadvantaged areas, with relevant skills for employability and targeted strategies to boost their transition into quality jobs — jobs that protect their rights and support their development. We welcome McDonald’s decision to join the Global Initiative on Decent Jobs for Youth, whose goal is to bring positive change and hope to young people’s lives through positive action. Such efforts are vital in helping us meet the UN Sustainable Development Goals,” said Sukti Dasgupta, Chief, Employment and Labour Market Policies Branch, ILO.

Removing barriers to entry in the workplace

“Around the world, too many young people are finding that, through no fault of their own, there are barriers to entry into the workplace. We believe this needs to change,” said David Fairhurst, McDonald’s Executive Vice President and Chief People Officer. “That is why McDonald’s and participating franchisees are expanding our existing world-class workplace training and education programs to go beyond those that we hire. Together, we will leverage our scale for good and help these young people to develop the core workplace skills they need to get a job and the opportunities they need to kick-start their career and achieve their true potential – whether at McDonald’s or elsewhere.”

“I want to commend McDonald’s and their independent franchisees for demonstrating what it means to be a good corporate citizen and for investing in Chicago’s next generation,” said Mayor Rahm Emanuel. “Chicago is proud to partner with McDonald’s to ramp up our workforce development efforts and help create more opportunities for young men and women across our great city.” 

Pre-employment Training

In partnership with local community organizations and the International Youth Foundation (IYF), which has over two decades experience in youth development around the world, McDonald’s will offer a new pre-employment work-readiness and soft skills training program, designed to help young people develop the competencies employers are looking for in entry-level employees. McDonald’s is piloting this initiative in Chicago, with the goal of reducing barriers to employment for 4,000 young people in the city, before rolling it out to select cities in the U.S. from 2019. In Latin America, Arcos Dorados – a McDonald’s franchisee – aims to reach 180,000 young people through existing pre-employment training programs, while other participating global markets will roll out the initiative through locally-relevant programs and partners from 2019.

“McDonald’s investment in youth development stands to make a real impact in the United States and around the world in providing young people with both skills and opportunities for employment,” said Susan Reichle, President, IYF.

McDonald’s is bringing together four trusted community organizations – After School Matters, Skills for Chicagoland’s Future, Phalanx Family Services and Central States SER – who will pair relevant skills training programs with a specialized version of IYF’s Passport to Success curriculum, developed in partnership with McDonald’s. Participants will learn valuable soft skills such as self-awareness and management, communication skills, problem-solving and conflict management. In addition to being considered for job opportunities at company-owned and franchisee restaurants, graduates from the training will have the chance to pursue opportunities with potential employers across a variety of industries like healthcare, supply chain logistics and IT.

Employment Opportunities and Workplace Development Programs

Through the Youth Opportunity initiative, the company and participating franchisees want to attract a diverse pool of talent to their restaurants. They will continue to provide job opportunities that young people need to kick-start their career and to develop critical soft skills, such as teamwork, hospitality and decision making. Employees can also go on to access development programs, including Hamburger University, which has prepared more than 360,000 students for leadership positions in the restaurant industry, and Archways to Opportunity, which has awarded over $26 million in high school and college tuition assistance to over 18,800 U.S. restaurant employees.

In Europe, McDonald’s, including participating franchisees, has pledged to offer 43,000 apprenticeships by 2025 as one of the career development opportunities that young people can access. The apprenticeships combine workplace training and study, enabling people to gain practical work experience and new skills that will last a lifetime - all while earning money at the same time. These apprenticeships will be offered in the UK, Germany, the Netherlands, Italy and Switzerland, with the aim of expanding apprenticeships to other markets in the future. Through this pledge, McDonald’s is also joining the European Alliance for Apprenticeships to help promote and improve access to vocational training for young people.

In the U.S., the company will grant $1 million to Skills for Chicagoland’s Future in support of a new apprenticeship program with City Colleges of Chicago. The program builds on City Colleges of Chicago’s mission to deliver a quality, affordable education, work-based learning opportunities and a path to upward mobility for its students. Kicking off this fall, the pilot will enable 40 students to earn an associate degree in business while working toward a restaurant management role. The grant from McDonald’s will provide scholarships to pay for time spent in class by any student who is an employee of a McDonald’s franchisee. As part of this initiative, McDonald’s has also joined the Chicago Apprenticeship Network to continue best practice sharing with other companies that are committed to expanding professional advancement through apprenticeships.

“There continues to be a disconnect between employers struggling to find qualified candidates and young adults looking for jobs. With its Youth Opportunity Initiative, McDonald’s is sending a clear signal that they are investing in young people and their career pathways.  We are proud to partner with McDonald’s to identify and place young people into jobs as well as provide them job readiness services and connect them to mentoring resources to provide a holistic program to support them.  This approach puts the focus on an individual’s potential – not their circumstance – and empowers Chicago’s youth to turn that potential into achievement,” said Marie Trzupek Lynch, founding President and CEO of Skills for Chicagoland’s Future.

“Working with McDonald’s and companies across Chicago, we are helping to create a more inclusive workforce and a more inclusive Chicago economy that allows people from all neighborhoods to contribute their abundant talents to our city,” said Juan Salgado, Chancellor, City Colleges of Chicago.  “With this work-based learning opportunity, McDonald’s offers our students an invaluable chance to build work experience, professional connections, and align their academic and career paths on the way to earning their degree.”

Young adults interested in applying to this new Chicago apprenticeship program should visit


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