U.S. coffee giant Starbucks has announced plans to hire 2,500 asylum seekers across Europe in the next five years as part of a worldwide initiative.The coffee company announced earlier this year they would be seeking to fill around 10,000 positions over the next five years with asylum seekers in the 75 countries in which they operate. New reports claim that around 2,500 of those asylum seekers hires will take place in Europe, Neue Presse reports.
The initiative, which was announced in January, is the brainchild of former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz who made the pledge in response to an executive order travel ban by U.S. President Donald Trump.
The decision sparked controversy and some took to calling for a boycott of the company on social media with one user on Twitter writing: “Hiring 10K refugees makes liberals feel warm BUT we have homeless vets that need those jobs. #BoycottStarbucks.”
Starbucks is said to be actively working with governments in Germany, the UK, France, Austria, Switzerland, Spain, Portugal, and the Netherlands to find asylum seekers to fill the positions.
The impact of the initiative may be greatly felt in countries such as Portugal and Spain where youth unemployment rates have skyrocketed in recent years. In 2016, the youth unemployment rate in Spain hovered at around 43 per cent and 27 per cent in Portugal according to statistics from the OECD.
The Refugee Council, a pro-migrant advocacy group in the UK, welcomed the move saying the asylum seekers would benefit the company.
Maurice Wren, head of the Refugee Council, said: “Refugees bring an incredible wealth of skills, knowledge and experience which are hugely beneficial to society.”
Before stepping down as Starbucks CEO in April, Howard Schulz was confronted at a shareholder meeting about the plan.
Justin Danhof, the general counsel at the National Center for Public Policy, a free-market investor activist group, slammed Schulz saying the “shareholder meeting was more of a validation of Howard Schultz’s liberal political agenda than a report to the company’s investors”.
Swiss Bank Credit Suisse have also called into question the plan saying it will likely damage the Starbucks brand and impact sales negatively. The assessment came shortly after a survey in which consumer willingness to spend money at the coffee chain went from 30 per cent down to 24 per cent.
In Germany, many have warned that asylum seekers will not make up the skilled labour shortages in the country; but despite this, German Chancellor Angela Merkel has pressured German firms to hire more migrants.