Youth Opportunity

Why it matters

Almost one in four young people across the world (21.8 percent) are not in employment, education or training, which can dramatically impact their skills development, earning capacity, long-term employability and wellbeing.1 We believe this needs to change.

Together with our independent Franchisees we have a longstanding commitment to providing training, education and career pathways to unlock the potential of Company and Franchisee employees. Yet, many young people face barriers to entry into the workplace and – through no fault of their own – are being left behind, unable to take advantage of employer-based education and training opportunities that exist. As a major employer of young people, McDonald’s has the potential and the scale to help bridge this opportunity gap.

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Our approach | Our actions

Our approach

In 2018, we launched 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 joined the Global Initiative on Decent Jobs for Youth, a United Nations led multi-stakeholder initiative, to help accelerate efforts to tackle the youth employment challenge.

Our Youth Opportunity initiative supports the UN Sustainable Development Goals, a global agenda to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all, specifically Goal 8: to promote inclusive and sustainable economic growth, employment and decent work for all.


Pre-employment Training

In the US, we have partnered with local community organizations and the International Youth Foundation (IYF), which has over two decades of experience in youth development around the world, to offer a pre-employment work-readiness and soft skills training program. The program is designed to help young people develop the competencies employers look for in entry-level employees, such as self-awareness and management, communication skills, healthy relationship building, and conflict management. In addition to being considered for job opportunities at Company-owned and participating Franchisee restaurants, graduates from the training have the chance to pursue opportunities with potential employers across a variety of industries, such as healthcare, supply chain logistics, and IT.

Internationally, McDonald’s in participating markets has partnered with local organizations and programs to provide pre-employment training to young people, as part of the Youth Opportunity initiative. For example, McDonald’s Italy has partnered with a local, certified training partner to provide a training program for young people not in employment, education, or training. The program will provide participants the technical skills necessary to search for, apply, interview, and secure a job, as well as soft skills required to be effective in the job, including time management, interpersonal skills, and ethical behavior.  

“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.“ Susan Reichle, President, IYF


Employment Opportunities and Workplace Development Programs

Through our Youth Opportunity initiative, we want to attract a diverse and untapped pool of talented youth to McDonald’s restaurants across the world. Focusing on young people who have less access to opportunities, McDonald’s, including participating Franchisees, will continue to provide job opportunities that young people need to kick-start their career. Through these jobs, young people will develop transferable soft skills, such as teamwork, communication and decision making, as well as hospitality experience and work ethic that will enable them to progress in their workplace.

Eligible employees from company-owned restaurants and participating Franchisee restaurants can go on to access training, education and leadership development programs to progress their careers. For example, McDonald’s Hamburger University has grown to seven campuses around the world and prepared hundreds of thousands of students for leadership positions in the restaurant industry. Our global education program, Archways to Opportunity, also offers eligible employees from Company-owned restaurants and participating Franchisee restaurants the opportunity to graduate from college, earn a high school diploma, learn English as a second language, complete an apprenticeship, and gain access to advising services. Across the globe, the Company and its Franchisees offer education opportunities to restaurant employees in 25 countries and counting.

Our actions

Preparing young people for the workplace

McDonald’s launched the pilot of the Youth Opportunity pre-employment training initiative in Chicago in 2018, in partnership with the International Youth Foundation. McDonald’s Corporation distributed $1 million in grants to four local community-based organizations with deep regional roots and decades of experience serving young people and their communities. These organizations paired relevant skills training programs with a specialized version of IYF’s Passport to Success curriculum, developed in partnership with McDonald’s.

The Chicago pilot program provided life skills training to over 4,200 young people, exceeding the program’s initial goal of reaching 4,000 youth. Upon completion of the program, 87% of young people surveyed reported an increase in life skills and 71% were engaged in education or employment.2

Following the success of the pilot program, Youth Opportunity expanded to Washington DC in July 2019. In partnership with IYF and local community-based organizations, the DC program aims to reach 1,000 youth in the area. The program is also continuing in Chicago in 2019, with a goal of serving an additional 4,000 young people.

Supporting youth across Latin America

Youth unemployment is one of the most critical issues in Latin America. As one of the region’s largest employers of young people, Arcos Dorados, a McDonald’s Franchisee, has long been committed to supporting the social mobility of youth and offering formal employment opportunities to those with little to no prior work experience.

For example, in Mexico, Arcos Dorados is a member of the “Jovenenes Construyendo el Futuro” (Youth Building the Future) program. In partnership with the national government, the program aims to provide young people training on critical life skills, such as personal finance, to aid their entry into the formal workforce.

In Colombia, Arcos Dorados is a member of the “40 Mil Primeros Empleos” (40,000 First Jobs) initiative, which seeks to provide first employment opportunities to 40,000 young Colombians in vulnerable conditions.

In Argentina, Arcos Dorados supports a number of skills programs, including the “Creando Tu Futuro” (Creating Your Future) workplace skills program, which combines online and classroom education focused on three key areas: guidance for work; technical skills in hospitality, customer service, or computer literacy; and personal finance, math, and Spanish.

Another initiative Arcos Dorados supports is Empleo con Apoyo, which aims to provide employment opportunities and skills development to young people with disabilities. During 2018, approximately 2,000 employees across several countries were part of the program. In 2018, Arcos Dorados received the Global Recognition Award from the United Nations for their employment practices for disabled workers in Brazil.

Arcos Dorados is also widely recognized as a leader in the Great Place to Work awards; several markets have participated and are recognized on a yearly basis.

Investing in apprenticeships

The success of our Youth Opportunity initiative depends not only on helping young people access jobs but also on our significant and ongoing commitment to young people who join us, through training, education and development programs.

In Europe, McDonald’s, including participating Franchisees, have pledged to offer 45,000 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 Austria, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Switzerland, and the UK. Through this pledge, McDonald’s joined the European Alliance for Apprenticeships to help promote and improve access to vocational training for young people.

In the U.S., we granted $1 million to Skills for Chicagoland’s Future in support of a new apprenticeship program in partnership with City Colleges of Chicago. The program builds on City Colleges of Chicago’s mission to deliver exceptional learning opportunities and educational services for students. Launched in fall 2018, this pilot enables students to earn an associate degree in business administration while working toward a restaurant management role. The grant provides scholarships to pay for time spent in class by any student who is an employee of a Franchisee. As part of this initiative, we have 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.“ Marie Trzupek Lynch, founding President and CEO of Skills for Chicagoland’s Future

1 Source: International Labour Organization, Global Employment Trends for Youth (2017)

2 Percentages were collected from IYF and include results from Chicago participants who elected to share with the local organizations that collect education/employment data. Therefore, not all data sets add up to the total enrollment number.

Franchisees are independent employers and each franchisee and each franchisee restaurant is unique.  Franchisees are alone responsible for all employment matters in their restaurant(s), including alone making all decisions regarding the requirements for jobs and setting all terms and conditions of employment, including hiring, firing, discipline, supervision, staffing and scheduling.  McDonald’s Corporation and its subsidiaries have no control over employment matters at restaurants owned and operated by franchisees.

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