The number of British nationals working at the Pret a Manger sandwich chain has increased by 18% over the past year after the company responded to criticism that it was not giving enough opportunities to UK applicants.
The company said it employed an additional 180 British workers last year, driving up the proportion of UK nationals in its workforce from 17 to 20%.
The company was criticised by London Mayor Boris Johnson and by the then Employment Minister Chris Grayling for not employing enough UK nationals during a period of high unemployment.
Pret, which announced an expansion plan last year, creating 550 new jobs worldwide, launched a series of initiatives to attract more British applicants.
A School Leaver Programme promised information about working for Pret, to every school leaver in the country. The chain sought to increase awareness of jobs via increased advertising and recruited 70 apprentices through a scheme aimed at helping homeless people back to work.
Clive Schlee, the CEO of Pret A Manger, said: “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.
“We are expanding our School Leavers Programme this coming year and will continue to do all that we can to attract more British applicants. We will always employ the very best people at Pret and we celebrate the rich diversity of our workforce and the atmosphere that brings to our shops.”
Jobs at Pret remain open to people of all nationalities as long as they are legally entitled to work in the UK. The company has argued that in some parts of the UK, such as London, the diverse population results in fewer British applicants. Customers enjoy the “cosmopolitan” feel that a multi-national workforce gives to outlets, the company believes.
Baristas at Pret a Manger, who must pass a test after a 12-week work period, are paid at least £8.05 an hour and can earn £1 per hour bonus every week.