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A Qualification? Would you Like Fries With That?


When McDonalds announced that they would be offering their employees qualifications that were on a par with traditional forms of qualifications, many people were more than a little sceptical and in truth more amused then anything. Quotes like "Would you like fries with that A-Level" were already doing the rounds in offices and across the media.

However, with closer inspection it seemed that quite a few people thought that allowing McDonalds, Flybe and Network Rail the opportunity to offer their employees their very own accredited qualifications was a good idea and one to be copied.

The Confederation of British Industry’s (CBI) deputy director-general, John Cridland said: "Today marks a significant milestone on the road to reforming qualifications so that they better reflect the skills and competencies employers and employees need."

Each year UK businesses invest £33 billion on developing their staff, but many organisations have long since dropped investing in recognised qualifications. Infact, only one third of businesses invest in official qualifications, with the rest believing that schools and colleges, in particular, are failing to give young people the skills they need for the real world. This was highlighted in the Leitch Review last year, which gave the shocking truth on the widening skills gap.

As the training industry has known for a while, organisations are turning more and more to external learning and development specialists, like Righttrack Consultancy. A large proportion of these organisations are favouring bespoke solutions, as they are built completely around their training requirements.

A new trend that has seen consistent growth in recent years is the number of organisations investing in development awards like the Institute of Leadership and Management (ILM). These allow bespoke programmes to be recognised and accredited by leading bodies in their field - in the case of the ILM they are Europe’s leading body in the field of management and leadership and so carry a lot of prestige.

This proves that it is not the actual idea of qualifications that makes organisations turn their backs on the traditional mediums of development but on the actual curriculum and subjects that they offer.

For a long time now it has been highly evident that organisations are preferring to invest in specific business related courses, whether it’s off-the-shelf or bespoke. This is because traditional course subjects are just not meeting organisations’ needs today. With the increase of organisations wanting accredited programmes it shows that recognition for academic achievements is still high on the agenda.

Whether you are for or against these vocational qualifications, the fact that learning and development is high on the business agenda cannot be a bad thing and for this, McDonalds, Flybe and Network Rail should be commended for their open commitment to development.

Whether these new qualifications are a success will remain to be seen. According to an opinion poll by the BBC, 62% of the general public believe that McDonalds should not be allowed to have their own form of A-Levels. All the learning and development industry can do now is to wait and see.

Kasmin Cooney


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