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Minister Burton launches 'Feeding Ireland's Future' - an initiative by the Irish food and grocery industry to support unemployed young people

The Minister for Social Protection, Joan Burton, TD today launched ‘Feeding Ireland’s Future’, an initiative by the Irish food and grocery industry to help support young unemployed people, at the offices of PwC. It will involve food and grocery companies and service providers to the sector throughout Ireland providing free pre-employment skills for young people during a designated ‘Skills for Work Week’ in March this year.

The initiative is being promoted by ECR Ireland, with the support of its members, in partnership with the Department of Social Protection through its Intreo service. According to the latest Live Register figures[1], the percentage of young people on the live register in December 2013 was 15%. Whilst this is down from 17.1% in December 2011, responding to this situation is a key priority for the Government.

Speaking at the launch the Minister said: “The skills mix of young people seeking jobs is vast. We need to offer a diversity of options for young jobseekers because they are not an homogenous group. We have young people with significant qualifications but who lack work experience and others who left school early and have few if any qualifications but who may possess an aptitude which would be of immense benefit to any employer. Their needs are very different and we have to provide for this diversity of needs. This Initiative is a key component in meeting those needs.

“I want to extend my appreciation to each of the employers and companies supporting this initiative for their commitment to Feeding Ireland’s Future through providing their time and expertise, and that of their organisation to help young jobseekers maximise their opportunities. I am confident that this initiative will be a huge success.”

Over the course of the next month, the Department of Social Protection will be contacting young people who would benefit from this unique opportunity. This opportunity will enhance their employability skills through benefiting from the expertise and advice of employers in their locality.

The ‘Feeding Ireland’s Future’ initiative is being led by two board members of ECR Ireland, Jill Ross, Managing Director of Unilever Ireland and David O’Neill, Managing Director of SHS Sales & Marketing.

Jill Ross commented that, as one of the country’s largest private sector employers, the food and grocery industry was well placed to support young people in the transition from education to employment.

“Feeding Ireland’s Future will give young people in Ireland a much better insight into the vast range of career opportunities available in our industry. Today’s young people are tomorrow’s workforce so investing in and inspiring our young people is critical for our sustained business success. Our approach is based on a similar campaign in the UK which has proved to be very effective. What started as a pilot week in 2012 has developed into an annual Skills for Work Month involving 190 companies providing free training opportunities at 1,200 locations. Based on the support we have received so far, we are confident that Feeding Ireland’s Future will become a major industry initiative in which most retailers, suppliers and service providers will want to participate” she said.

Companies already signed up for Feeding Ireland’s Future include some of Ireland’s leading names in the grocery industry. Retailers such as Tesco and the Musgrave Group along with fuel and convenience operators the Maxol Group and Topaz Energy are all involved to date.

On the food side manufacturers and suppliers including Cuisine de France, J&J, Keelings, Kelloggs, Kerry Foods, Mars, Mondelez, Nestle, P&G, SHS Sales & Marketing and Unilever will open their doors to give young unemployed people first-hand experience of the workings of production and marketing. Furthermore, logistics companies such as the PRL Group and Pulse Logistics are also signed-up.

See full list of participating companies below.

The companies will provide a range of initiatives including free on-site skills workshops and site visits for young people at locations across Ireland during Skills for Work Week, which will run from Monday 3rd to Friday 7th March 2014. The focus will be on developing pre-employment skills and will include advice on CVs, interview training and behind the scenes tours of factories, depots and offices.

Declan Carolan, General Manager, ECR Ireland called on as many companies as possible to participate and offer some pre-employment training initiatives during March 2014.

“Feeding Ireland’s Future is a great example of how the food and grocery industry can collaborate to further the skills of young job seekers in Ireland and better prepare them in their quest for work. For instance, for many young unemployed people, job search can be frustrating and confidence may be an issue while many job applicants do not receive feedback from employers. I hope as many companies as possible participate so that future employers will favourably recognise those applicants who have participated in the Skills for Work week. Our industry needs to collectively step up and help inspire young people and I believe that Feeding Ireland’s Future can play a significant role in this ideal” he said.

ECR member companies interested in participating in Feeding Ireland’s Future should contact: or T 087 235 2148

About ECR Ireland

Efficient Consumer Response Ireland (ECR) was established in 1998 to promote and educate the Irish Business Community about Efficient Consumer Response and the benefits it brings. It is the official ECR organisation in Ireland and is a member of ECR Europe. The board is comprised of senior executives from a selection of retailers and suppliers operating in Ireland whose purpose it is to represent the sectors within which they trade.

ECR Ireland encourages long term co-operation between retail trading partners to drive costs out of the supply chain and benefit the Irish consumer. It does this by developing industry best practices, promoting their adoption and providing education and guidance on key demand side & supply chain issues. It is committed to the implementation of ECR principles by Irish companies and is a not for profit organisation.

About Intreo

Intreo is a service from the Department of Social Protection which helps those unemployed with their employment and income support services needs. Intreo provides a personalised service, based on individual needs including; advice on education, training and personal development opportunities, job search assistance as well as information on and access to the range of income supports available.

Companies already signed up for Feeding Ireland’s Future

Allied Logistics

Category Solutions

Cuisine de France

Galmere Fresh Foods

GS1 Ireland

Irish Distillers Pernod Ricard


Johnson Brothers

Kantar Worldpanel



Kerry Foods

Largo Foods


The Maxol Group

Mondelez International

The Musgrave Group



PRL Group


Pulse Logistics

SHS Sales & Marketing

STL Logistics

Spirit Executive

Tesco Ireland

Topaz Energy