Page last updated at 00:11 GMT, Thursday, 11 March 2010

McDonald's offers work experience-based GCSE

McDonald's employees
The qualification will be equivalent to a grade B or C GCSE

Teenagers who complete a period of work experience at fast-food giant McDonald's will be able to gain a qualification equivalent to a GCSE.

The company has worked with exam board Edexcel to develop a BTec certificate to recognise the skills gained.

The BTec will require youngsters to complete a 10-day placement in a restaurant and complete work in school.

Edexcel said the qualification was modelled on the pre-existing BTec certificate in work skills.

A spokeswoman for the exam board said Edexcel had worked closely with McDonald's to develop the qualification.

The certificate was fully accredited and equivalent to one GCSE at grade B or C, she added.

The 10-day placement adds up to the 80-hour study requirement for regular BTec certificate and will see teenagers cover issues such as team working and communication skills.

Building confidence

The qualification - devised by McDonald's - follows concerns raised by business leaders that schools, colleges and even universities are failing to equip youngsters for the world of work.

David Fairhurst, personnel chief at McDonald's, said: "Whether people join McDonald's for two weeks' work experience or a full-time job, the aim is helping them build their confidence, gain transferable qualifications and fulfil their potential.

"Now, 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."

Heather Collier, director of the National Council for Work Experience, welcomed the qualification.

"A formalised BTec would help them [young people] articulate and realise the skills they've learned," she said.

"It will bring together the theory and practice of working."

In a survey of 2,133 young people in the UK aged 14-19, McDonald's found 86% thought work placements would be better if they led to a qualification.

And 81% said high-quality work experience gave young people the edge when looking for employment.

Two years ago, McDonald's won approval to offer courses which could form part of a qualification at the standard of A-levels or advanced Diplomas.

McDonald's, airline Flybe and Network Rail were the first firms to be approved to offer the Level 3 courses.

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