Recruiter Soap Box: Are young British workers slacking?


In case you missed it, renowned television chef and restaurateur Jamie Oliver, recently interviewed for the Good Housekeeping Magazine, said the following about the lack of work ethic from young British workers in his kitchens:

‘British kids particularly, I have never seen anything so wet behind the ears. I have mummies phoning up for 23-year-olds saying to me, “My son is too tired.” On a 48-hour-week! Are you having a laugh? ‘I think our European immigrant friends are much stronger, much tougher. If we didn’t have any, all of my restaurants would close tomorrow. There wouldn’t be any Brits to replace them.’

Anyone who has visited a restaurant, bar or hotel in a major UK city will know they are de facto run by immigrants. I don’t think I even have to mention the plumbing or builder professions.

So immigrants are over here, but they are certainly not over worked or over paid. Instead, when you’re straight off the boat (as I was myself some ten years ago), you’re happy to take any old job and work your way up the ladder. I suspect this is why Jamie Oliver finds new arrivals work harder in the kitchen.

Nobody has said it’s easy for young Brits to find jobs. But imagine moving to a foreign country where you don’t speak the language fluently, don’t have a track-record and no network that can help you. When you’re in that position, you’ll grab whatever jobs come your ways with both hands.

It happens all over the world, Mexicans do the jobs Americans pass up, Filipinos do what Singaporeans reject, the Polish do the jobs Brits can’t be asked to do, even Swedes do the job Norwegians aren’t interested in.

Do these immigrants work harder than your average citizen? Probably. Will it always be this way? Probably not. Once you get established in a new country, you’ll take the foot off the pedal slightly and also chase a better quality of life (trust me, I have).

In places like London or Manchester, there will always be vacancies for service jobs and these will be taken by whoever is the hungriest at the time. Be they immigrants from India, Poland or just someone moving across the UK, the patterns will always be the same. Once they are naturalised, they’ll pass on the jobs to the next batch.

My barber who is from Kosovo says “there are plenty of jobs out there, if you really want to work”. I agree with him, there are plenty of opportunities in the job market but you may have to start from the very bottom. That’s what he did and he now owns a salon. It’s what I did and I now run a marketing agency. With the risk of sounding like David Cameron, the British dream is yours for the taking – if you’re prepared to work for it.

Jorgen Sundberg is Founder & CEO of Link Humans

Click here to find vacancies in the catering and hospitality sector

1 Comment

  1. quiddoo September 3, 2013 at 2:49 pm

    I’m in fact an immigrant because the situation is being really hard in Spain, so I really been travelling a lot and working in different countries, so I feel very lucky for the opportunities that I’ve been given, some experiences better than others but you always learn from your mistakes. Of course y situation is quite different from the one you describe and I’ve been able to work in my career field, but if I had to do it, obviously I would accept jobs that most of english people would refuse.
    Great article. Thanks.

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