Oakman Inns founder Peter Borg-Neal has come out in support of British hospitality workers following recent criticism from home secretary Priti Patel.
Ms Patel said that the government is “no longer going to have a route for low-skilled workers to come to the UK” after unveiling a points-based immigration system that has left hospitality businesses fearing a labour crisis.
But the Oakman boss – who runs 24 sites – is pleading with her to reconsider her opinion of staff in the hospitality industry.
He blasted: “These are highly skilled people with a high degree of responsibility. If they didn’t shoulder that responsibility, there would be no need for a Food Standards Agency, or guidelines and instructions on allergens management. There would be no MasterChef or Sommelier of The Year.
“There would be no incentive to work in the industry or to see it as an aspirational career path – all because Priti Patel has this rather strange view of the people who serve her whenever she goes out.”
His comments follow a week in which the pub group received double recognition for its achievements in the industry during the past year.
It was ranked for a fifth year in the top 30 of the Sunday Times ‘100 Best Companies to Work For 2020’ list, finishing up as the highest rated multi-site pub company with the top accolade of three stars.
And it also won the annual ‘Sustainable Operator Award’ at the Casual Dining Awards for its non-stop effort to become environmentally better in everything it does.
Oakman Inns, which employs more than 1,000 people across its establishments in southern England and the West Midlands, runs a development programme called ‘Oakmanology’, a learning and skills hub designed in-house by its HR team.
It takes employees through both craft and leadership development, using a mix of online micro-learning opportunities including fact sheets, quizzes, eLearning, face to face training, videos and assessments.
Mr Peter Borg-Neal said: “It is a huge honour and privilege to work with [all my employees], and they are the reasons that this company, which is only just over twelve years old, has grown and developed. We don’t stop trying, we don’t stop caring and we’ll never stop trying to please.”