McDonald’s given power to award British school qualifications

>LONDON (AP) – New on the McDonald’s menu: a takeaway diploma.

The government is giving the U.S. burger chain – along with a rail company and an airline – the right to award credits toward a high school diploma to employees who complete on-the-job training programs.

The plan, announced Monday, is part of a push to improve skills among young people and offer even workers who dropped out of school years ago a chance to gain official qualifications.

It’s the first time commercial companies have been allowed to award nationally recognized academic credits for their own workplace training plans. Experts and business leaders had a mixed reaction to the plan, already being dubbed “McQualifications.”

McDonald’s employees will initially be offered a “basic shift manager” course to train staff in everything they need to know to run a McDonald’s outlet – from hygiene to customer service.

Dean Burn, a 20-year-old McDonald’s employee said his on-the-job experience and in-house training at the fast food chain helped him get offers to study at two universities, even though he had fewer high school credits than typically need to enter a British university.

“I could give you 20 examples of how working at McDonald’s has prepared me,” he said. “There’s the shift work, time management and people skills – within nine months I was promoted to management level.”

Burn said colleagues who had been forced to drop out of school early for personal reasons and who believed that college had passed them by would particularly benefit from the plan.

“I think it’s opening doors for people who can’t afford to go through formal education,” he said, adding that he would continue working part-time at McDonald’s while pursuing his three-year college degree.

McDonald’s plans to offer its British course to 7,000 restaurant managers across the country, regardless of their age.

David Fairhurst, a McDonald’s senior vice president in Britain, called the program “an important and exciting step.”

“We want to ensure that our approach to recruitment, training, and development continues to create real opportunities for social mobility,” he said.