UK allows corporations to award high school credits

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Monday, January 28, 2008

A McDonald's in Exeter.
Image: Billy Hicks.

The government of the United Kingdom has given corporations like fast food chain McDonald's the right to award high school qualifications to employees who complete a company training program.

Two other businesses, railway firm Network Rail and regional airline Flybe, were also approved. The decision was made by the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority, which oversees the national curriculum.

McDonald's said it will offer a "basic shift manager" course, which will train staff in marketing, customer service, and other areas of restaurant management. Completion of this course will be the equivalent of passing the GCSE, the standard exam taken at age 16, or the Advanced Level, taken at age 18.

Network Rail plans to offer a course in rail engineering, while Flybe is developing a course involving aircraft engineering and cabin crew training. Passing Flybe's course could result a university level degree.

Prime Minister Gordon Brown supports the plan. "It is going to be a tough course, but once you have got a qualification in management you can probably go anywhere," Brown said. He emphasized the importance of higher education, saying, "Every young person needs a skill and to think about going to college, doing an apprenticeship or university."

John Denham, Secretary of State for Innovation, Universities and Skills, called the decision "an important step towards ending the old divisions between company training schemes and national qualifications" and said it will "benefit employees, employers and the country as a whole."

However, some people are unsure of the plan's effectiveness. Sally Hunt, general secretary of the University and College Union, said, "We are unsure whether those institutions would be clamoring to accept people with McQualifications," using a derogatory term for the program.


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