Pret a Manger has pledged to pay those on work experience after it faced a backlash over "exploitative" plans to only offer them free food.
The sandwich giant was hit by a wave of criticism over plans for unpaid work placements for teenagers, but has since vowed to pay those on the scheme.
Pret has previously warned it faces a staffing crisis after Brexit, as only one in 50 applicants to jobs there are British.
In an effort to attract British staff, Pret is now launching the Big Experience Week, offering 16-18-year-olds work experience over the summer.
The chain said the programme was aimed at addressing the “long-term challenge that Pret and the wider industry must meet to ensure hospitality is seen by Brits as a serious career choice”.
Human resources director Andrea Wareham wrote in a blog on the company’s website: “Attracting British applicants is not exclusively a Pret problem, and is symptomatic of a wider cultural bias.
“British schools and parents don’t always take careers in the hospitality industry seriously, but they really ought to. The industry has changed dramatically over the past 20 years and today it is strong, dynamic and growing.”
But the scheme came under fire from critics who said work experience placements should be paid.
Internships campaigner Tanya de Grunwald, of Graduate Fog, told the Guardian: “The best kind of experience is hands-on experience where it is really clear that the young worker has set hours and responsibilities and is doing proper work. By law, if that’s the case they should be paid.”
The company also faced a backlash on Twitter.
Iain Millar tweeted: "Dear @Pret - I use your shops quite a lot. That stops today until you pay these young people in money".
Francesca Solmi added: "Sure! 16-18 yes old kids will be lining up to work for free at pret a manger this summer. #jokers".
And journalist Janice Turner posted: "Fancy an "internship" making sandwiches? You won't be paid but they'll "give you food". No wonder only migrants apply to work at Pret".
Another Twitter user added: "Hi @pret, your employment practices are gross and exploitative."
And another said: "When I was 16 I worked in a cafe - and got paid for it. Why can't Pret just hire teenagers as staff?"
Clive Schlee, Pret's CEO, told the Standard after the backlash that it would pay teenagers on the programme.
He said: "Pret’s Work Experience Week is not about making sandwiches for free. We set it up so that 16-18 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.”
Last month, Ms Wareham said staff at the high-street chain come from 110 different nationalities, with 65 per cent of those from outside the UK being EU citizens.
The director said she doubted higher wages would draw UK citizens to the industry, after being questioned by Labour peer Lord Darling, who sits on the committee.
Ms Wareham said: “I actually don’t think increasing pay would do the trick, I can only talk for Pret on this, but we do pay well above the National Living Wage, we do have great benefits and we offer fantastic careers.
“It really is a case of do people want to work in our industry?
“We are not seen always as a desirable place to work and I think that’s the trick.”