According to a new feature article in the UK’s Guardian newspaper, a major British retailer says the vast majority of their job applicants come from outside the country. The director of human resources for the chain Pret a Manger told Parliament last week that only 1 in 50 applicants are actually British.
HR director Andrea Wareham told the economic affairs committee that 65% of Pret a Manger’s workforce is comprised of foreigners from other EU countries. She claimed the retailer would be unable to fill all of its positions if Brexit forced them to turn other EU nationals away.
“It’s not in selecting, it’s a difficulty in attracting,” she said of the problem. “I would say one in 50 people who apply to our company to work is British. If I had to fill all our vacancies with British-only people I would not be able to fill them because of the lack of applications.”
Wareham insisted that she wasn’t taking a political or moral stand on immigration or diversity, but only laying out the facts of a post-Brexit reality.
“We are entirely accepting that the number of EU nationals will go down over time. We would love to increase the number of British nationals and we are excited about this,” she said.
However, she said, there were not many young Brits particularly excited about working hard for relatively low pay.
Kevin Green, who runs the Recruitment and Employment Confederation, had the same concerns. According to Green, a food processing plant had tried to replace immigrant workers with British citizens, only to find that UK nationals weren’t interested in the job.
From The Guardian:
He said it held lots of roadshows, open days at the processing plant, but “one month on, 75% of UK nationals were no longer there”.
“What is that about? These are hard jobs, potentially physically demanding. I’m not sure we prepare people very well. They are paid national living wage. We need to work on attitudes to work, that’s a challenge for employers,” said Green.
We’re sure to hear many of the same arguments from business owners in the U.S., particularly as President Trump begins cracking down hard on illegal immigration. And while we’re certain there’s an element of truth to the old “Americans won’t do these jobs” quip, we’re not certain that it’s as universally true as we’re told it is.
Maybe we’ll have to make adjustments here and there. Maybe prices in certain sectors will go up.
Maybe some companies will not be able to survive without illegal labor.
Well…a burglar may not be able to survive without burgling. Does that mean we look the other way?
We’re not going to be convinced that our economy depends on having quasi-open borders. And if our economy does depend on the violation of American law, then maybe there’s something broken in our economy.