Page last updated at 14:41 GMT, Wednesday, 7 January 2009

McDonald's apprenticeship drive

McDonald's restaurant
McDonald's also has staff on a Diploma course

McDonald's is set to become the UK's largest apprenticeship provider, offering all workers the chance to qualify in "multi-skilled hospitality".

The fast food chain said government funding meant it could offer the scheme to one in eight of its staff this year and up to 10,000 every year from 2010.

Gordon Brown has just announced an extra 140m for apprenticeships in England this year.

The McDonald's apprenticeship will be equivalent to five GCSEs at A* to C.

Earlier this year the firm won approval to offer courses which could form part of a qualification at the standard of A-levels or advanced Diplomas.

David Fairhurst, of McDonald's UK, said: "In these challenging economic times, it is more important than ever for employers to invest in their staff.

"With the service and hospitality sector now one of the biggest employers in the UK economy - over 1.9 million people are employed by the hospitality and tourism sector alone - it's vital that we and others in the industry invest in skills and training now to ensure the sector is ready to shine when the UK emerges from the downturn."

'First qualification'

The company has been piloting the apprenticeship in 80 of its restaurants. It employs 72,000 people across the UK and aims to offer the training scheme to up to 6,000 of them this year and up to 10,000 each year from 2010.

Employees will learn skills directly related to their work, plus maths and English equivalent to GCSE level.

Mr Fairhurst said the apprenticeship would cover technical skills required to do the job, leadership and team working, maths skills such as handling money, dealing with customers and communication as well as nutrition and the environment.

It would probably take a year to complete.

Mr Fairhurst said: "We know from talking to staff that some did not get on with the education system and this will be their first qualification.

"For others it will give them the opportunity to go on to other qualifications."

The company says the government contributes 1,000 to each apprenticeship place. Its own bill for training is 30m a year.

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