McDonalds shows the way with staff management degrees

The new McDegree is a good example of how business and academia should be working together to improve skills.

by James Taylor
Last Updated: 19 Aug 2013
You have to hand it to McDonalds; once lambasted for its menial McJobs, the fast food giant is now one of the most progressive companies in the world when it comes to training and developing its staff. It already offers various levels of vocational training, and it's now going one step further: staff will hitherto be given the chance to do a two-year foundation degree in business management, accredited by Manchester Metropolitan University. Not only is that good for McDonalds' managers - but it's also a perfect illustration of how UK plc needs to be working with universities to make graduates more employable...

The new course will be called 'Managing Business Operations', and it's actually an adapted version of an existing Manchester Met course. Taken in conjunction with its apprenticeships, BTECs and diplomas, it means that Maccy D's is now offering a complete 'learning ladder' (its words, not ours) for its staff. And though this course will be exclusively for resturant managers (who, with a staff of up to 100, are effectively running a small business), since such a large proportion of managers come up through the ranks, it's something for all staff - sorry crew members - to aspire to. The chain's 'chief people officer' David Fairhurst says McDonalds sees itself 'as an educator just as much as an employer' these days.

In truth, though, the two things don't have to be mutually exclusive. Employers are often moaning that our education system isn't producing suitably skilled workers (particularly the kind of higher-level, managerial skills). So it makes perfect sense for them to get involved in shaping courses directly. The CBI's Richard Lambert certainly thinks so; he told the BBC this scheme was 'a great illustration of how business can play its part in helping to deliver high quality vocational training'. And McDonalds appears to recognise this better than most. 'People no longer want to choose between education and employment,' says Fairhurst. 'There’s now much more of an interplay between them, and at McDonald’s we want there to be a revolving door between study and the workplace.'

Schemes like these are good for school leavers, since they offer a genuine alternative for further education (and this is for free). They're good for universities like Manchester Met, who need to find more ways to justify their existence (and their funding). And in the long run, they'll be good for UK plc too. What's not to like?

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