Pret plans new measures to tackle British recruitment dilemma

Pret sign

Pret A Manger’s HR director has urged the education industry to take careers in the hospitality industry seriously following her recent appearance at the House of Lords, where she spoke to the Economic Affairs Committee about the recruitment challenges facing the sector.

Andrea Wareham, who is responsible for Pret’s 8,000-strong workforce, revealed that only one in 50 applicants to Pret’s Recruitment Centre is British, generating huge discussion about what this means for the industry as Teresa May prepares to Trigger Article 50.

Writing in a guests blog for Pret’s website, Wareham sought to answer the question of why so few Brits apply for jobs in places like Pret?

“Attracting British applicants is not exclusively a Pret problem, and is symptomatic of a wider cultural bias,” she said. “British schools and parents don’t always take careers in the hospitality industry seriously, but they really ought to. The industry has changed dramatically over the past 20 years and today it is strong, dynamic and growing.

“Around 20% of all new jobs created in the UK since 2010 have been in hospitality – a pace of growth that fuels brilliant careers and provides enormous opportunity for management, development and leadership, often from a young age.”

Wareham said the truth is that working in hospitality is not an easy ride, as Pret’s own founders can vouch for.

She said: “The company was founded in London in 1986 by two college friends, Julian Metcalfe and Sinclair Beecham, who wanted to create a new type of ‘fast food’ – fresh, handmade and natural.

“Far from being an overnight success, Julian and Sinclair found out that it takes energy and teamwork to open profitable shops, make quality food from scratch every day, and provide the excellent service that keeps customers returning. It took 14 years before the pair opened the first Pret shop outside of the UK in New York.”

It can take as little as three years to become a general manager of a shop turning over millions of pounds and leading a team of up to 50, with a £40,000 package”

Wareham insists that for the many thousands who embrace the work ethic of its founders, there are plenty of upsides, including a salary that is “well above” the National Living Wage, regardless of age or background.

“Someone joining Pret in London will earn annual pay and rewards of almost £18,000, plus the benefits of free food and paid breaks,” she revealed. “After a year with us this typically rises to £20,000. It can take as little as three years to become a general manager of a shop turning over millions of pounds and leading a team of up to 50, with a £40,000 package.”

Pret intends to win the hearts and minds of the British public, parents and schools by increasing its recruitment advertising, sharing more of its stories on social media, doubling its School Leavers Programme intake and working with new partners like Jobcentre Plus.

It also plans to launch a new initiative this summer, called ’Pret’s Big Experience Week’, offering 500 one-week work experience placements for 16-18 year olds all over the country.

“Participants will get exposure to aspects of our business including food production, customer service, social responsibility (care for the homeless) and financial control,” explained Wareham. “Working in hospitality won’t be for everyone, but I’m confident we could offer great careers to many more Brits than we do today.”

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