VEVEY, Switzerland (AP) — Some 200 companies on Thursday pledged to create new work and training opportunities for Europe's young jobseekers, of which one out of four is unemployed.
The alliance of major companies set a goal of creating tens of thousands in additional jobs — or apprenticeships and internships that lead to jobs — over the next several years.
"We are confident that more than 100,000 opportunities will be given in the coming years, but it should go beyond that," Laurent Freixe, CEO of Nestle Europe, told reporters at the company's headquarters.
Nestle, the world's biggest food and drinks maker, is leading the alliance which includes Adecco, AXA, Cargill, CHEP, DS Smith, EY, Facebook, Firmenich, Google, Nielsen, Publicis, Salesforce and Twitter and White & Case. Freixe said Nestle has created 8,000 of the 20,000 new positions it promised to generate by 2016.
Europe's lack of growth while trying to recover from a crisis over government debt has resulted in a painful employment rate above 10 percent. Among youth, joblessness is above 23 percent and twice that in Spain and Greece. Northern countries such as Germany generally fare much better.
Eva Paunova of Bulgaria, who became one of European Parliament's youngest elected members this year, said governments also can do more to provide an "education where one can get work experience" before graduation.
The idea behind the alliance is to help ease the transition that young people must make from education to the work force, by helping them gradually build their knowledge and skills.
"This is not a numbers game," said Jose Lopez, Nestle's vice president for global operations. "Long-term thinking is essential."