What sort of qualifications has McDonald's been authorised to offer?
Do you want fries with your McDiploma sir?
The fast food giant has been given the right to offer qualifications by the government's exams watchdog.
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.
The difference is that the learning on this course will be divided up into credits - in line with national guidance from the exams watchdog the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority.
The standard of these credits will range from Level 2 to Level 3.
Level 2 is GCSE grades A* to C, an intermediate General National Vocational Qualification or a higher level Diploma.
Level 3 is at the standard of an A-level or an advanced level Diploma.
An employee on one of these McDonald's courses will not be completing anything equivalent to a whole six-unit A-level or advanced Diploma - only part of one.
Theoretically, the fast food giant could design a course which was equal to a whole A-level but that would have to be evaluated.
McDonald's is one of the first three firms to be given awarding body status but the QCA hopes more firms will do the same.
How will the value of the qualification credits be measured?
Through a new national Qualifications and Credit Framework which comes into force later this year.
It is a way of recognising skills and qualifications that allows them to be carried forward by the learner.
The framework enables people to gain qualifications at their own pace and prevents them from losing chunks of learning if, for whatever reason, they are unable to finish a course.
It does this by awarding credits for qualifications and units or small steps of learning.
How does it work?
The qualifications are defined in two intersecting ways - level of difficulty and size of qualification (or time taken).
Levels of difficulty range from 1 to 8.
Broadly speaking, Level 3 is A-level, Level 4 is degree level and Level 8 is PhD level.
Under the size definition, a single credit represents 10 hours' work.
Under the QCF, Awards range from 1 to 12 credits, Certificates from 13 to 36 credits and Diplomas are 37 credits or more.
With an A-level expected to require 360 hours of teaching, it is clear that a higher end Certificate is likely to be equal to one A-level.
Although the framework is new it is not untested.
It was subject to a two-year trial period among business and education providers which began in September 2006. A second phase started in March 2007.