The recent chaos across the UK’s airports has been blamed on “lazy Brits who live off benefits and sit on their arses”.

Jet2 boss Steve Heapy is rumoured to have made the explosive comment in recent talks — as BA and Easyjet demanded more powers to hire visa-free workers from Europe.

The industry is struggling to replace staff lost in the pandemic.  Many unemployed cabin crew in Spain are seen as an alternative ­labour pool but Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has rejected the call for European workers.  

Mr Heapy slammed Brits for not turning up to job interviews or taking the application process seriously.  Jet2 had to row back saying he had only “expressed his frustrations with the employment market”.

The obvious solutions to the challenge of filling those vacancies and soothing Mr Heapy’s frustrations is that you probably need to offer people a bit more money, you terrible tightwads.

But maybe, against all the odds, Healey has a point.  

A large international survey undertaken by recruiter Randstad UK showed many Brits would rather be happy and unemployed than work in a job that made them unhappy.

More than a third (34 per cent) of Brits agreed with the statement “I would rather be unemployed than unhappy in a job” 

The poll, which saw 15,750 people surveyed across the continent of Europe, asked workers in 15 countries if they would rather be unemployed than unhappy in their job — it showed Brits were more likely to agree than 13 of the nationalities polled.

Workers in Italy, Greece, and Spain were all less likely to prefer unemployment than workers in the UK with only 16 per cent of workers in Luxembourg saying the same.  

Victoria Short, the CEO of Randstad UK, says: “Most employers are worried about their top talent jumping ship.  In the UK, they might find themselves with another rival – unemployment.”  

While that might sound flippant, there’s a genuine point here.  Participation rates are falling and this is a serious problem for the country and our national talent pool. 

Incidentally, at the other end of the spectrum, the country where most likely to embrace unemployment?  France.


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