Jez Langhorn 1

The UK Commission for Employment and Skills (UKCES) recently reported that one in five vacancies are caused by a skills shortage. Through its 2013 Employer Skills Survey, UKCES found that 146,200 job vacancies last year were unfilled because of inadequate skills, a figure that has almost doubled in two years. This made me think about our work at McDonald’s and the role businesses can play in tackling skills shortages.

Giving young people a chance 

As one of the UK’s biggest employers of young people, we give many young people their first taste of work. We understand that what they may lack in specific skills they more than make up for in enthusiasm and an appetite to learn. I see this first-hand every day.

All businesses need to remember that no young person enters the world of work as the finished article, and you can’t and shouldn’t expect this from a new recruit. This is where employers come in. We can help them by offering training, support and qualifications, to allow them to develop transferable skills and strengthen the abilities that they already have. This not only helps them to perform better in the workplace, but it also gives them confidence and a broader foundation to build their careers.

McDonald’s career ladder 

This is why over the last eight years we have been on a journey to offer our people access to nationally-recognised qualifications. We dipped our toe into the world of work-based qualifications back in 2006, when we first started offering nationally-recognised qualifications in maths and English to our employees. Within months, hundreds of employees had signed up to brush up on their basic skills or get a qualification they’d missed out on at school.

Since then, we’ve built a wide-ranging education programme for our people, extending from functional skills in English and maths, an apprenticeship in Hospitality and Catering, through to a Foundation Degree in Managing Business Operations that we offer our restaurant managers.

Whether you are starting out aged 16 without basic Maths and English qualifications, or an aspiring restaurant manager, we are there with help and support. In fact, over 55,000 qualifications have been achieved by our people since 2006.

Thinking back to the UKCES report, we’re making sure our employees have all the skills they need for the job. We remain committed to offering high-quality jobs that allow people to develop genuinely valuable, transferrable skills such as teamwork, communication, customer service and business management.

Taking a sector-wide approach 

The task of making sure young people have a career full of opportunities is bigger than just one business. As a sector we need to tackle this issue head on.

This is why, towards the end of last year, the Hospitality Guild, of which McDonald’s is a founder, launched  Hospitality House, a new, state of the art training venue  that offers those working in the hospitality and retail industries a place to hone their skills.

We are committed to working with our industry to help drive up standards and qualifications for all. Only by grouping together and sharing best practice through initiatives like Hospitality House can we help the widest pool of young people, and also help to dispel some of the inaccurate preconceptions that still linger about working in the hospitality sector.

Learn while you earn 

Over the past eight years we’ve found that if our people are engaged and inspired, we have more fulfilled and motivated employees, which in turn enables them to serve our customers even better. By harnessing this we don’t have to worry about a skills shortage. We know that our people don’t just want to earn, they want to learn too.

Jez Langhorn, Senior Vice President, Chief People Officer at McDonald’s UK