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Apprentices to employees: How Cargill is bridging the gap through the Alliance for YOUth

February 17, 2017

If you’ve ever done an apprenticeship or internship before, you know what that next, all-important step is – it’s the step you take from apprentice to employee. Meet Bradley Martens, an AEI engineer, and Sam Gilmour, an account manager for the UK and Ireland.

Both Martens and Gilmour completed their apprenticeships with Cargill and chose to take the next step on their career journeys as employees with the company.

Little did they know that their journeys from apprentices to employees would eventually take them to the European Parliament in Brussels, Belgium, to share their experiences with an audience of CEOs, politicians, educational institutes and media.

The opportunity came through Cargill’s involvement in the Alliance for YOUth, part of the “Nestlé Needs YOUth” initiative. As a founding member, Cargill – together with the more than 200 companies who have since joined the Alliance – are working to reduce youth unemployment by offering internships, apprenticeships and work-ready skills training to young people.

Two of Cargill’s apprenticeship schemes – The Apprentice Academy in the UK and Leer Werken in de Techniek in the Netherlands – were selected to be showcased among 20 dual learning schemes at the European Parliament event.

Speaking at a high level policy debate that took place during the event, Frank van Lierde, leader of Cargill’s food ingredients and bio-industrial businesses said: “Dual learning schemes like apprenticeships are triple-win: they benefit youth, schools and companies. It’s important to all work together to raise awareness among youngsters that dual learning shouldn’t be an afterthought – they should be the mainstream.”

Marianne Thyssen, European Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs, Skills and Labour Mobility echoed van Lierde’s remarks and added another winner – society as a whole.

For Gilmour, one of the important factors in choosing Cargill was the opportunity that working for a multinational company would afford him in the future. He started his apprenticeship at Cargill’s starches and sweeteners plant in Manchester, UK, and is now based in Mechelen, Belgium, as an account manager in the commercial sales team for the starches and sweeteners business.

Alison Bagnall, managing director for The Apprenticeship Academy – which facilitated Gilmour’s apprenticeship placement at Cargill – notes how dual learning schemes add significant value to the employer and the learner, create a holistic offering and help plug gaps in the transition from education to work.

Martens’ apprenticeship started at a Cargill soy plant in Amsterdam, Netherlands. Today, Martens looks after the maintenance of the entire plant, and credits his apprenticeship experience for providing him with the work-ready skills and hands-on practice to help him succeed in his current role.

Koos Krokké, Cargill retiree and sponsor of Leer Werken de Techniek – the program through which Martens did his apprenticeship – agrees that the value of improving cooperation between business and education has helped “grow a pool of well-educated, young, multi-functional engineers from which to recruit.”

With enthusiasm bustling in the air – especially among the Cargill delegation – perhaps what lies ahead is most exciting: at the close of the event, the Alliance for YOUth pledged to double their efforts and create 230,000 new opportunities for young Europeans between 2017 and 2020.

And with success stories like Gilmour, Martens and many other apprentices-turned-employees around the globe who chose to start their career path with Cargill, the future is looking bright.