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McDonald’s is unveiling a foundation degree for its restaurant managers, to complete what it says is a “learning ladder” for its employees at all levels.The two-year foundation degree - in ‘Managing Business Operations' - is accredited by Manchester Metropolitan University, and 53 managers will sit the inaugural course. It completes a fourth and final stage of qualifications available to staff at the fast food giant, which also offers BTECs, Level 2 apprenticeships, and level 3 diplomas in shift management.The new qualification has been developed from the company’s previous management development programme, and is made up of 20-30 hours of learning per week, incorporating elements of e-learning, self-study modules and on-the-job training, as well as classroom teaching at a special facility in East Finchley in London, where McDonald’s employs six full-time tutors.David Fairhurst, chief people officer at McDonald’s, said that the foundation degree completed a “ladder of learning” that employees could step on and off at different times in their lives. “People no longer want to choose between education and employment. With university tuition fees going up and places hard to come by, it’s time for employers to step in and fill the gap. In the old days there was a planet of education and a planet of employment - people left one and joined the other, or stayed in one without going into the other. But there’s now much more of an interplay between them, and at McDonald’s we want there to be a revolving door between study and the workplace.”Fairhurst said that there was no shortage of demand for the qualification, and that experienced staff “are queuing up” to do the foundation degree. He described the job of the company’s restaurant managers, who each manage about 100 staff, as “like running an SME” and that the qualification would ease people in to the many aspects of what is an extremely varied job.Asked whether McDonald’s qualification would be recognised by other employers, Fairhurst said: “The more you give your people transferable skills the less they want to transfer. I speak to a lot of HR people within my sector and I can tell you that they would all like to employ people who had worked as a manager for us. That’s because of our training and when you add a qualification to that – and the self-belief that brings to the individual – it’s a very attractive package.”Dr Sue Shaw, executive head of Human Resource Management and Organisational Behaviour at Manchester Metropolitan University Business School, said she was delighted to be working with McDonald’s. “This is an innovative foundation degree which offers the company's restaurant managers a rigorous, academic grounding in managing a business outlet, including people management, financial control, operations and marketing.”Also this week, McDonald’s has launched a prospectus outlining it full suite of qualifications that it will make available in careers advice centres across the UK alongside traditional academic prospectuses. Its apprenticeship programme, which was launched 18 months ago and now takes on 10,000 learners a year, has just been given a grade 2 (good) rating from Ofsted.