Who told us that we are better than McDonalds workers ?

We've all heard the jokes about people who work in McDonald's. It is supposed to be harmless fun, but at the end of the day it is often a class thing, a smugness amongst the educated middle class against people who are lowly paid, often lacking qualifications and end up in what is seen as a dead end job.

So it saddens me to see people being so demeaning of the opportunity given to McDonald's staff to earn a proper accredited qualification.

Yes it is so easy for us to mock the "McJob", wearing their little badge emblazoned with stars showing what levels they have achieved, and it suits "some" of us to make sure that these lowly paid people in service industries know their place on the social ladder. Quite often they arrive at McDonalds, KFC or Burger King without qualifications, perhaps turned off learning by a bad school experience or simply a lack of will to learn. But who says these people have to remain at the bottom of the ladder all their lives ?

Many workers in a whole range of jobs soon become dependent on their salary. They cannot, even if they want to, go out and get an education which they may want. Perhaps they have a family to support ? May be the hours they have to work are not conducive to evening classes. ? There are 101 reasons or more why formal education is out of their reach which is further ammunition as to why the formal recognised qualification offered by McDonalds is such a good idea.

I went to University for four years, and could talk for hours about teaching or about political systems and the structures of political parties, and that has been recognised in my Degree in politics and my PGCE allowing me to teach. But should I be faced with a worker from McDonalds, I would not have a clue how to sterilise equipment, how food should be stored or even the issues of human resource management. Why shouldn't these practical skills be recognised formally ?

It is a sad indictment that a country that has a shortage of skilled workers, be they plumbers or plasterers that people can swoon over someone who has read classical poetry for their degree at University but mock someone who has the practical skills needed by the catering industry.

Perhaps the biggest indictment though is the fact that so many people have chosen to question the validity of the McDonald's qualification but have not said a word about FlyBe or Network Rail also being able to offer a professional qualification. What is that has made the middle classes be so smug about McDonald workers and why are they so worried that these people can better themselves.

I was watching a BBC drama called Lark Rise to Candleford last night and it centred around the argument between a poor "liberal" and the "Tory" classes telling him he should "know his place and not better himself". It seems some things actually never change.


Tristan said...

This is also a qualification for management, not the service positions (although I'd expect managers to be able to do that if needed).

Also, McDonalds has created more millionaires than any other business due to its franchise system. Contrary to what people seem to think, McDonalds is not one all-encompassing mega-corporation, its more an association of small businesses which work together to create the same product across the world (adapted for local conditions of course)

Anonymous said...

Although I loathe their products I note that in the one at Piccadilly Manchester the vast majority are from ethnic minorities.

I would be happier if the degree was to help in any needed literacy or numeracy skills as well as for those who want to manage others.

Although a good idea in some ways (as it gets the companies to dig into their own pockets for education) it might be a bit self-serving and gimmicky if it's just about how they can help the company keep them and not how the company can help them leave!

Andy said...

To be honest, to me the term McJob does not entail a sneering attitude to the holders of the job, simply a recognition that the terms of the job are not great - ie. very tightly controlled work pattern, low pay, union-busting employer, etc.

I have just spent my Christmas holiday employed by a national chain of cinemas, being paid minimum wage. I would not consider a qualification in the job I had to be in any way equal to the qualification I am persuing at university.

That doesn't mean I object to formally recognising these qualifications, simply that I think it's silly to equate them to academic degrees.

Anonymous said...

Nich I agree with you completely. It is far better to have good vocational qualifications developed by successful businesses than exam boards. I dont understand why so many Tories sneering at the private sector providing inovative ways to train these people and help raise their asspirations.

Dan said...

spot on Nich. Couldn't agree more. The government have it so wrong in effectively promoting that only a university degree will give you a life.

Normal Mouth said...

A good observation. Most of the commentary, as you note, is simple snobbery.

Newmania said...

went to University for four years, and could talk for hours about teaching or about political systems and the structures of political parties, and that has been recognised in my Degree in politics and my PGCE allowing me to teach.

Bloody hell what are you like on subjects you do not have a degree on then ? Social Second ?

Anonymous said...

Is is as bad on the extreme left with some bloggers having a go at McDonalds over cheap pay and claiming their qualification is a form of slavery.

The Tory right and the old left have no place in today's Britain.