Brexit Could Set Britain's Hospitality Industry Back a Decade

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According to the major industry group.

One of the most controversial ramifications of the upcoming Brexit is the effect it will have on immigration, significantly shutting the UK’s doors to the rest of the EU. While proponents of the policy tend to suggest that limiting immigrants will make the UK safer, opponents are painting a much different picture: Amongst other things, it’ll be a lot harder to get a sandwich.

According to The Guardian, the British Hospitality Association (BHA) recently warned about the potential dire consequences to Britain’s hospitality industry once Brexit is set into motion – suggesting that some restaurants and hotels could even go out of business in the aftermath due to the lack of an available and willing workforce. “It is going to be very, very tough indeed,” Ufi Ibrahim, the BHA’s chair, was quoted as saying. “It will be a very long time for businesses like Pret a Manger to replace EU staff because they are largely based in the south-east…. I think it will take 10 years to build a future talent pipeline.”

The reason Pret a Manger specifically got a name check is because late last week, the UK-based, 330-location chain made headlines when the company’s head of HR, Andrea Wareham, announced that just one in 50 of its job applicants were British. According to Wareham, 65 percent of her staff is from EU countries other than the UK. “It really is a case of do people want to work in our industry?” she said. “We are not seen always as a desirable place to work.” Another Pret executive involved with a London recruitment center told The Guardian, “Sometimes we can go a whole day here without having a single Brit.”

Ibrahim suggests that encouraging Brits to work in hospitality is something that will take time because it has to start young. “We have to go back into the schools and present hospitality as a career option to children between the ages of 11 and 14.” Hey, that sounds like an easier plan than going back into the schools and teaching 11- to 14-year-olds about the complexities of European politics.

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