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Pret U-turns on unpaid internship scheme for young people


High street food chain Pret bit off a little more than it could chew with its latest internship scheme for 16-18 year olds after it fell into the old trap of offering them unpaid positions with the company to gain experience.

Earlier in the week the company announced that it will be looking for 500 UK teenagers to bring them aboard for a week of unpaid work experience - called the Big Experience Week.

Andrea Wareham, HR director at Pret announced the initiative on the company's blog: "We will launch a new initiative this summer - Pret’s Big Experience Week - offering 500 one week work experience placements for 16-18 year olds all over the country.

"Participants will get exposure to aspects of our business including food production, customer service, social responsibility (care for the homeless) and financial control. Working in hospitality won’t be for everyone, but I’m confident we could offer great careers to many more Brits than we do today."

It came after the company revealed that only one in fifty of its applicants to our London Recruitment Centre is British.

Members of the public threatened to boycott Pret when use of the unpaid placements emerged, resulting in the company walking back its food-for-work (and expenses) model to start paying the workers.

The Telegraph quotes Clive Schlee, Pret chief executive, who said: "Pret’s Work Experience Week is not about making sandwiches for free. We set it up so that 16 to 18 year olds can shadow our teams and get a flavour for what working at Pret is like.

"We’ve seen how passionately people feel about the initiative, and in response I would like to confirm that we will pay all participants Pret’s starting hourly rate and of course provide free food as well.”

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