Pret a Manger has clarified plans to enlist British teens aged 16 to 18 on work experience, promising to pay them the usual hourly starting wage.
The high street lunch and coffee chain announced the initiative after Pret's HR director Andrea Wareham advised the House of Lords’ Economic Affairs Committee that only one in 50 of the applicants to its London Recruitment Centre is British.
In response to the threat which Brexit poses to the chain's workforce, Pret announced the “Big Work Experience Week” on Monday, stating its intention to take on 500 teenagers between the ages of 16 and 18 for a week of work experience. There was initially no mention of offering the young workers a pay packet.
Following outcry from social media users, many of whom threatened to boycott the stores, the company has now said it will pay young workers the average starter salary as well as offering them free food.
CEO Clive Schee said: “Pret’s Work Experience week is not about making sandwiches for free. We set it up so that 16-18 year olds can shadow our teams and get a flavour of what working at Pret is like.”
The initiative is part of a crop of efforts by Pret to enlist more British workers in its UK branches. Other measures include doubling the existing School Leavers Programme intake and working with Jobcentre Plus.