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McDonalds aspires to become biggest apprenticeship provider

McDonald’s, the fast food chain, has signalled plans to offer 6,000 staff apprenticeships this year, rising to 10,000 every year by 2010.

Its intention to offer all employees an opportunity to qualify in "multi-skilled hospitality" would make the restaurant the largest apprenticeship provider in the UK.

The nationally recognised qualification would be equivalent to five A*-C grade GCSEs and is supported by funding from the Government, which yesterday announced an extra 140 million pounds to be set aside for apprenticeships in 2009.

The qualification, which has already been trialled in 80 of its restaurants, will cover in detail the skills needed to work in McDonald’s, and the hospitality sector as a whole. As well as technical skills, these include an understanding of leadership, team work and nutrition. How to deal with customers and money will also be covered along with environmental considerations.

The burger giant, which boasts 72,000 employees in the UK alone, gained a mixed reception last year after it announced courses at the standard of advanced Diplomas or A-levels, with many in the media branding the qualifications ‘McDiplomas’.

McDonald’s UK’s David Fairhurst, however, is undeterred by critics who believe it isn’t a fast-food chain’s place to offer such training, and stresses that now is the time for companies to invest in their employees.

Mr Fairhurst 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."

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