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Cath Everett

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McDonald’s: Would you like a GCSE with that?


McDonald’s is launching the UK’s first national work experience-based qualification at the same time as a poll revealed that young people believe a strong academic background alone is no longer enough to secure them a job.

Recent figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) appear to confirm this view. They indicated that, although youth unemployment fell by 16,000 in the last quarter of 2009 taking the number of 16 to 24 year olds out of work to 927,000, the jobless rate for this category still stands at 20%. This compares with a national average of 7.8%.
As a result, a survey undertaken among 2,133 people aged 14 to 19 in the UK by Populus and commissioned by McDonald’s in February this year found, unsurprisingly, that a huge 86% of young people no longer believed good qualifications alone were enough to guarantee them a decent job.
A further eight out of ten agreed that high-quality work experience gave them a competitive edge, while 86% felt that such activity was of more value if it led to a national qualification.
Unfortunately just over half indicated that there were not enough quality placements available, with eight out of ten respondents in this group saying that they felt employers were failing them as a consequence.
To make matters worse, one in five that had participated in such placements in the past attested that their host employer had not planned them well enough in advance.
But McDonald’s unveiled its answer to the problem today at the Institute for Education Business Excellence conference in Birmingham.
David Fairhurst, chief people officer at the company’s UK and Northern European business, said at the event: “A placement will give young people on-the-job experience in a fast-paced business environment, a great set of all-round skills for any workplace, and a national qualification to increase their employability.”
Its new work experience programme requires learners to complete a 10-day placement, which includes developing teamwork and communication skills and incorporates mock interview practice at the start and end of the initiative.
Students complete the remaining fifth of the module in school and, should they pass, they will obtain a qualification equivalent to a GCSE graded B to C, which will be accredited by awarding body EdExcel.


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