Only 1 in 50 people that apply for jobs at sandwich shop chain Pret a Manger are British, according to the firm's HR director Andrea Wareham.
Speaking at a House of Lords economic affairs select committee investigating Brexit and the labour market yesterday (8 March), she said it was a difficulty in attracting, rather than selecting, British workers, and that 65% of Pret's workforce is made up of EU nationals. She said the company would struggle to fill its vacancies with British-only applicants.
She called for a "transitional period" with a data-driven quota of EU workers available to ensure the process of filling those vacancies with British workers is a smooth transition.
When questioned regarding pay and working conditions, Wareham said she did not think increasing pay would solve the problem of attracting British staff.
She said: "It really is a point of do people want to work in our industry and I think there has been a time lag between the growth and success of the hospitality industry over the last 10-15 years. There are amazing places to work that are cool brands to work for, but still we are not always seen as a desirable place to work."
According to Wareham, a starting salary at Pret is £7.50 an hour plus £1 an hour including free lunch and paid breaks, equating to approximately £16,000 a year which goes up after three months. Pret managers earn a base pay of around £33,000.
"We're entirely accepting that the number of EU nationals will go down over time and we would love to increase the number of British nationals within our business," she said. But she added: "time is the issue here."
Wareham said: "There is more that we can do to attract fantastic British workforce to our industry, but that takes time, it takes resource. If we have that, then I believe we will be successful."
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