McDonald's introduces its own degree - and we're lovin' it

Actually, we jest, but we really like this idea. The degree is in business management. It's accredited by Manchester Metropolitan Uni (being a customised version of the uni's course). Its aim is to provide in-depth, in-house training for restaurant managers, without them needing to leave their day jobs to gain higher education qualifications.

Which all sounds ruddy sensible to us, and a much more amenable way to provide higher education to an increasingly large group of people unable to afford higher education as tuition fees sky-rocket.

This helps McDonald's as a business too: it's been shown time and time again that providing good training improves employee retention rates - and equipping staff with extra skills and management knowledge is never a bad thing.

We also salute the way the course is delivered: through a combination of classroom study, e-learning and on-the-job training, which seems to us to be a pretty pragmatic and relevant way of delivering business education.

"People no longer want to choose between jobs and education. They should not be parallel universes," McDonald's senior vice-president David Fairhurst told the BBC. Fairhurst thinks instead people should be able to work and train simultaneously, and that the UK needs to find a way to provide this, particularly for those who didn't necessarily blossom academically at school.

The plan is being supported by Richard Lambert, director-general of the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) - he described it as a 'great illustration of how business can play its part in helping to deliver high quality vocational training'.

This isn't McDonald's' first foray into education and training. It achieved awarding body status two years ago. The apprenticeship scheme it developed six months later has been rated 'good' by Ofsted.

Fairhurst emphasises these training programmes are not an act of kindness - just that, very simply, a higher-skilled workforce improves sales. We like his inclusive approach to education (even though it is of course biased in this case): "The old 'McJob' label is lazy and snobbish."

We agree. You have to start somewhere, and there's no shame in working your guts out sweeping floors in McDonald's or anywhere else to earn your entitlement to other responsibilities. No one should ever sniff at hard work, in any industry.

As it happens, 90% of McDonald's restaurant managers began as crew. Rewarding those efforts by providing training benefits employees and the business as a whole. And when those interest align so neatly, there's every reason to support an initiative like this.

Plus, it's a concept small businesses can replicate easily - and if you're interested, a good place to start is the government's apprenticeships scheme and government information on workplace training.

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