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Diageo boss calls for action over “scandalous” talent waste in wake of Brexit

Published:  28 November, 2017

Diageo boss Ivan Menezes has claimed that there is a “scandalous waste of talent” in the UK with 790,000 young people not in education, unemployment or training (NEET).

Menezes, is also the chairman of Movement to Work, a collaboration of employers that help young people into work. He said that the emerging labour market challenges in light of Brexit create an opportunity to get young unemployed people into work.

The call will have particular resonance with the UK drinks trade – especially hospitality employers - where high staff-turnover is being exacerbated by Brexit.

“It is a scandalous waste of talent that 790,000 young people in the UK are currently NEET”, he said.

“Brexit will likely reduce the ability of business to hire workers from elsewhere in the EU, so it is both a moral and business imperative to help our young people take that vital first step into the job market.”

A report from the British Hospitality Association (BHA) earlier this year revealed that the hospitality industry would have to find an extra 60,000 workers per year to plug the gap left by EU workers. This is on top of the 200,000 workers required yearly to replace churn in the market. The BHA said this could leave a deficit of a million workers by 2029.

The government’ own statistics released in a working paper earlier this month that approximately 150,000 EU nationals work in the UK’s pubs, bars and restaurants.

Movement to Work has called for business, government and civic society to step up efforts to help Britain’s young people.

The call came as a meeting was held between more than 20 CEOs and senior executives of major British companies and secretary of state for Work and Pensions David Gauke.

Gauke said: “Latest figures show that youth unemployment is at a record low, and the number of people not in employment, education or training is falling, but we know there’s still more to be done.

“This government is making sure no young person is locked out of the jobs market. We’ve already set a target of 3 million apprenticeships by 2020, Jobcentre Plus support is being rolled out in schools and intensive employment support is available for 18-21 year olds on Universal Credit.”

Movement to Work also used the meeting to call on the government to create greater flexibility in how companies can invest the Apprenticeship Levy to allow more funding in pre-apprenticeship training.