Boris Johnson’s rivals in May’s Mayoral contest have condemned remarks about young unemployed Londoners.
Discussing the levels of non-British staff at high street chain Pret a Manger, Johnson said: “Let’s talk about the work ethic. I don’t want to stigmatise young people because many of them do have the aptitude. But we need to face up to these issues.
“In some cases it can come down to the fact that the jobs are there and people need to have the energy to go out and get them.
The Mayor made similar remarks last year, prompting Pret to defend its hiring policy and workforce diversity.
On Thursday the Mayor unveiled a £1.3 million package to “develop vital skills and instil discipline and responsibility in young people, particularly those who are or at risk of being excluded from education, training or employment.”
Reports of Johnson’s comments come a day after a poll suggested he was “out of touch”.
Liberal Democrat Mayoral candidate Brian Paddick said: “To suggest that London’s young people are workshy and lacking in energy and appetite is outrageous and sadly typical from this out of touch Mayor.
“I’ve met hundreds of youngsters around London who are desperate for work, and struggling to find the support to help them into a job. What this Mayor needs to be doing is holding out his hand to young people struggling to find employment, rather than branding them as lazy.”
Labour’s Ken Livingstone said Londoners were “the hardest working people in the world”.
Livingstone added: “Boris Johnson has two jobs, earning him £400,000 a year combined, so it is little wonder that he is so out of touch about how hard it is for many to find work in a city with some of the highest unemployment in Britain.”
UKIP candidate Lawrence Webb said the Mayor ‘is out of touch on this matter and has shown borderline contempt for youngsters who just want a job.”
Webb added: “Five years ago the Public Accounts Committee revealed that 51,000 pupils left school without a GCSE of at least D to G grade in Maths, and 39,000 left without even achieving these grades in English.
“Those school leavers will now be in their early 20s, and unless they have been able lucky enough to get a second crack of the whip, will be competing for jobs against better educated foreign applicants.
“Boris should be calling for a better education system, not providing cheap soundbites that he hopes will give him a poll boost.”