Thursday 9 March 2017

Pret A Manger Facing Staff Shortages Because Of BREXIT

Pret A Manger

Only one in 50 job applicants to the hugely popular sandwich chain is British, HR chief Andrea Wareham told a government committee.

Staff at the high-street chain come from 110 different nationalities, with 65% of those from outside the UK being EU citizens, she last night.

“I would say that one in 50 people that apply to our company to work is British,” she told the House of Lords Economic Affairs Committee.

“If I had to fill all our vacancies in British-only applicants I would not be able to fill them... because of a lack of applications.”

The director said she doubted higher wages would draw UK citizens to the industry, after being questioned by Labour peer Lord Darling, who sits on the committee.

Ms Wareham said: “I actually don’t think increasing pay would do the trick, I can only talk for Pret on this, but we do pay well above the National Living Wage, we do have great benefits and we offer fantastic careers.

“It really is a case of do people want to work in our industry?

“We are not seen always as a desirable place to work and I think that’s the trick.”

Her comments echo those of Brexit Secretary David Davis who said the door to the UK would not “suddenly shut” because it would take “years and years” to fill jobs in sectors that rely heavily on migrants, such as hospitality and social care.

Pret A Manger

Pret A Manager has had to defend its use of foreign workers in the past.

In 2011, the company was at the centre of a row with then Employment Minister Chris Grayling, who said it was “unacceptable” for fast-food chains to employ foreign staff at a time when unemployment in Britain had reached a 17-year high.

At the time Mr Grayling told Sky News: "It is certainly a situation that I find unacceptable. Of course, this country has benefited from people coming in from other countries to work.

"But I want to see more young people in positions in this country and I want… to see them getting jobs that become vacant, rather than people coming into the UK."

Pret responded by saying people of all nationalities were welcome to apply, and that in some stores, particularly in London, more non-UK born workers applied for jobs compared to British workers.

Then mayor Boris Johnson also weighed in on the debate, saying: “Look at the London service economy. Go to Pret a Manger. How many native Londoners serve you? Ask yourself, what's going on?"

The row resurfaced in 2013 when it was revealed that eight in ten workers at Pret were foreign born.

The company claimed to be tackling the issue, however the proportion of its workforce that was born in Britain had only risen from 17 per cent to 20 per cent in a year.

Chief executive Clive Schlee said at the time: “We are pleased that we have seen some encouraging signs and that the number of British workers at Pret has increased.

“But this is not a Pret issue, this is an industry-wide issue and there is no quick fix.”



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