It shocked me to find out that 81% of waiters in London were born outside the UK.
In some ways though, I am not surprised by the numbers or Jamie’s statement. To a certain extent, he is correct. We have to be honest about the element of society that does not want to get its hands dirty and put in a good day’s graft.
However, generalisations are very dangerous. We dismiss our young native workforce as lazy and unwilling, but in my time at Yummy I have found some great young talent, both British-born and from overseas. Without this talent, Yummy wouldn’t be half of what it is today.
Last week I sat in a room while six of my team signed up for apprenticeships, three of which came through the Perceptions Group work placement scheme. Two were EU foreign nationals residing in the UK and the other four were what the tabloids would class as ‘proper British’.
Trust me, none of those individuals are lazy or unwilling — they wouldn’t last five minutes at Yummy if they were.
I also have to say that not all industries suffer the same deprivation of good, hard workers, no matter the background or nationality.
The truth is we need to entice better people into our industry. I can sum it all up with something my grandmother said to me that stuck in my head when Yummy was expanding into its second site: “Why have you gone back to pubs? I worked years to earn money so your dad, and you, wouldn’t have to do that sort of thing. You’re mad, you have a degree!”
Even back then it was evident running a pub was something for the less professional and, in some cases, migrant workers. Well, the opinion still stands with mums, dads, nans and grandfathers. The pub trade remains low on the list of credible careers for many people because of the perception instead
of the reality.
To change this we can’t bemoan the situation, we have to change it one person at a time and business by business. I’m doing my bit, but are you?
Jamie, I call on you now to pledge your places to our work placement initiative and let’s change the numbers and get the right people into our business.
To the rest of you operators, training providers and suppliers alike, I ask that you start acting as ambassadors for our trade and make sure everyone that steps into it is given opportunities, and a positive impression of who we are.
Anthony Pender is owner of Yummy Pub Co and vice-chair of the Perceptions Group