Bridging the gap for young people globally


McDonald’s needs to attract millions of applications every year. Youth do not perceive McDonald’s as an employer of choice. Oftentimes this is due to a lack of understanding of the brand, opportunities and benefits. As such, the company needs to connect with Opportunity Youth differently in order to change these misconceptions. This means meeting them where they are – not where we are.


To become “America’s best first job”, McDonald’s sought to partner with a career preparation organization to increase visibility into the multitude of benefits and professional development opportunities the company provides, as well as bring in more opportunity youth talent.

The Outcome

Talent Rewire’s Innovation Lab helped McDonald’s U.S. determine that 50% of their employees are between the ages of 16-24, two thirds of which have likely faced barriers along their journey to landing roles at McDonald’s. This information led the company’s U.S. team to realize that they needed to equip their managers on how to interact with and support these employees. The U.S. HR team developed several tools such as a recruitment and retention toolbox that included a new and revised interview guide that would enable managers to ask questions differently for someone who had lots of job experiences versus a youth that had no job experience. It also included information on Career Pathways with McDonald’s to show that progression and learning was not just upward, but there were also a lot of opportunities to learn laterally, and ultimately we go from crew position to an owner-operator position.

During this process, McDonald’s Global Team was having similar conversations with markets around the world. As a major employer of young people, McDonald’s believes it has the potential and the scale to help bridge the opportunity gap for young people globally. Together with their independent Franchisees, they recently 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. Given McDonald’s involvement in the Innovation Lab, they are piloting this initiative in the US – specifically in Chicago, with the goal of reducing barriers to employment for 4,000 young people in the city, before rolling it out to select cities in the U.S. from 2019 onwards.