Campaign Teacher Spring 2008
News that McDonalds are offering employees a ‘training’ equivalent to A-levels got its fair share of media attention at the end of January, particularly when it became known that QCA was recognising it – along with courses from two other major companies, the airline Flybe and Network Rail.
From January 2008, McDonald’s will pilot what it is calling a basic shift manager’s course. The course will cover everything the 7,000 managers of McDonald’s outlets across the country need to know about the day-to-day running of a restaurant. This ranges from basic operational requirements, to finances, marketing and human resources. Learning on this course will be divided up into credits. The standard of these credits will equate with GCSE grades, A-levels or a national Diploma.
Though an employee will not be completing a full A-level equivalent, only part of one, when 17 year olds are legally required to participate in education and training from 2013, a ‘Mcqualification’ will probably suffice (the fast food giant could design a course which was equal to a whole A-level). Gordon Brown quickly gave support, while skills minister John Denham said it was an important step towards ending the old divisions between company training schemes and national qualifications.
Criticising McDonalds is not an example of ‘academic snobbery’ towards practical/vocation learning as some daily newspapers implied. In an increasingly uncertain labour market, most teachers would welcome government backing for good quality vocational training delivered by reputable employers preferably in collaboration with FE colleges, but many will be bewildered if not appalled at why this has been extended to the fast food chain.
McDonalds have been exploiting youngsters from the earliest opportunity, not just with the ‘Mcfood’ they sell to thousands everyday, but also through ‘Mcjobs’ fitted around school and college hours and which any self respecting teenager seeking to earn a bit of cash will tell you, are the lowest of the low. Promoting ’Mclearning’ is the latest attempt at extending ‘McDonaldisation’ into the lives of kids and young people.
QCA support for McDonalds is particularly nauseating, considering the Government’s own vocational diplomas have been plagued with problems, not winning support from parents, headteachers or universities and when many Modern Apprenticeship schemes continue to flounder.