Economy First Look

Starbucks says it will add 240,000 jobs by 2021, with programs for teens, vets, refugees

The coffee company says it will open 3,400 new stores by 2021, creating 68,000 jobs in the US alone.

Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz speaks at Starbucks annual shareholders meeting on Wednesday, March 22, 2017, in Seattle.
Elaine Thompson/AP
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Starbucks is going on a hiring spree.

The popular coffee chain is planning to hire 240,000 more people globally by the end of 2021. Of those, 68,000 jobs will go to the United States. Many of the new hires will be necessary for the 3,400 new stores the company plans to open in the next four years.

According to company officials, many of the new hires will be the result of programs focused on helping teens, veterans, and refugees.

"We are better because of them," Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz told MSNBC, referring to veteran hires. The company had planned to hire 10,000 veterans and military spouses before 2018, but reached its goal early. Now, the company hopes to add 25,000 veteran and military spouse hires by 2025.

Starbucks also said it is ahead of its goal of hiring 10,000 young people by 2018 – that number now tops 40,000, and the company has expanded the program to include 100,000 hires by 2020. Starbucks says the youth hiring program will help jumpstart careers all over the world.

"All [young people] are looking for is someone to open a door and to view them on their own merit," Mr. Schultz said.

Starbucks is also on the lookout for refugees to hire as well. The company says it is committed to its promise to hire 10,000 refugees from around the world by 2022, a plan that was announced the day after President Trump announced the first version of his travel ban. One study from YouGov claimed that the promise to hire refugees so soon after the executive order was put in place caused the company’s brand perception to fall by two thirds, but Starbucks disputed the site's findings with a counter-study that said there had been no substantial change on brand perception.

"Without question," Scultz told MSNBC, "[It's] had zero impact on the equity of the brand, the performance of our business and, I'd say most importantly, has made our partners and our customers proud of the compassion of the company."

"I'm committed to doing everything I can as a private citizen to try and elevate the national conversation about these issues," he added. "I'm very, very concerned about the fragile nature of the world and the uncertainty in America and want to do everything I can to really improve the situation for those people who do not have a voice."

Starbucks has also joined with the UN Refugee Agency, International Rescue Committee's #WithRefugees campaign, and the Tent Partnership of Refugees in its efforts to "scale up the company's support and efforts to reach refugee candidates." 

Starbucks' CEO has not shied away from political stances during his professional career, publicly endorsing Hillary Clinton during the presidential campaign campaign last year. But while Schulz is set to be replaced by Kevin Johnson on April 3, Mr. Johnson has promised to continue the company's support of various social causes such as the refugee-hiring program.

Many of the hiring promises are part of a five-year plan for the company, which was worked on by both Schulz and Johnson. The pair said they were confident about Starbucks' immediate future, but admitted to MSNBC that they had some concerns about Mr. Trump's anti-free trade policies, since the company has branches all over the world.

"Certainly, as an American brand, sometimes politics in the United States can carry over," Johnson told MSNBC. "But we're going to stay focused on the things we can control and the things that we do well."