The initiative, dubbed “Nestlé needs YOUth”, was announced at an event in Greece, where more than half of under-25s are unemployed.
"Today, one in four young people in Europe does not have a job," said Nestlé executive vice president and zone director for Europe Laurent Freixe. "Think of the impact on our society if these young people are left on the margins, without income, without a future, without hope.
"As we continue to grow and invest in Europe, we want to do all we can to strengthen and develop their skills, and improve their employability, regardless of their level of education.”
The company has pledged to hire 3,000 young people in France, 2,420 in Germany, 1,250 in Spain and 1,080 in Italy by 2016, including through direct recruitment, as well as apprenticeships and trainee roles. It also intends to develop “a small number of roles” to give southern Europeans experience working for Nestlé in Switzerland, France, Germany, Austria, Scandinavia and the UK.
In addition, it said it would encourage its 63,000 suppliers to offer jobs or apprenticeships to young people in Europe.
"Nestlé is globally successful also because we are successful in Europe," said Freixe. "This initiative aims to harness the dynamism of its youth so that they can look, with confidence, to a brighter future."
European Commissioner for Education, Culture, Multilingualism and Youth, Androulla Vassiliou, welcomed the move, saying that it was a good example of how the public and private sectors could work in partnership to boost youth employment.
“In a time of crisis, investing in the education and skills of young people is more important than ever. It is also vital that we invest in quality so that that our young people develop the skills and competences which will make them employable. This means that the private and public sectors need to work in partnership," he said.
“Investing in skills not only benefits young people but also the businesses themselves because they will have a pool of young productive employees. By mobilising its network of small and medium-sized business partners, companies like Nestlé can also increase the impact of such initiatives.”