The news that McDonald’s, the fast-food restaurant, is to be allowed to hand out qualifications – so-called McDonald’s A-levels – is bound to provoke “McJobs” protests. Whether or not criticism is justified, the best private and public-sector organisations have long regarded the provision of education as part of their core duty. Philanthropy wasn’t the only motive of the great Quaker companies, such as Cadbury’s; rather, the knowledge that a well-educated and trained workforce would inevitably lead to greater productivity and results. Among growing businesses, education is a key ingredient for success. “We run a sponsored student programme,” Philip Feibusch, co-founder of Bourne Business Consulting, told Real Business recently. “We take a focused and intelligent A-level student with plans to study at university, give them a structured placement within the firm and sponsor them through university.” Our own Human Capital Awards, where we recognise high-performance people and organisations, last year unearthed the hugely positive story at Northern Ireland’s largest poultry manufacturer, Moy Park. There, the business faced tricky issues around McDonald’s staff literacy and numeracy. Improving such skills has been a Moy Park mission across all its sites for some years now and the Human Capital award was recognition of the strides made to effectively help employees gain these skills which were invariably not learned at school. The Moy Park solution was to introduce employees lacking in these skills to on-site tutors who over a period of months effectively and sensitively brought the individuals up to speed in the workplace. A McEducation may not be the answer for everyone but, as usual, there are plenty of angles to this story.
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