Thursday, May 12, 2011

Degree? You may be better off with a McDonald's job: British school leavers told to 'ignore snobbery' and join fast food chain

University is the wrong choice for many youngsters – and a ‘McJob’ is a better option, according to the boss of McDonald’s. While studying for a degree may be the right path to take for some people, it can be a disaster for others, Jill McDonald said yesterday.

The fast-food chain’s chief executive called for an end to education ‘snobbery’, stressing that no one should feel forced to go to university.

More than half of her executive team even started work flipping burgers, she said.

A ‘McJob’ is considered a low-paid, dead-end work, but the firm says this impression is unfair and misleading. Of its 85,000-strong British workforce, around 16,000 are studying for a qualification organised by the company.

Options range from an NVQ in Maths and English – which is the equivalent of a GCSE – to a foundation degree in hospitality.

Speaking at the Institute of Directors annual conference in East London, Mrs McDonald said: ‘We need to acknowledge that the road many young people take today may not be the one we took in the past. ‘We need to remove the snobbery that does down workplace learning. ‘For many put off by high fees, this could and should be the route they take.’

The 46-year-old, who is married with two young children and coincidentally shares the surname of her employer, said she is ‘definitely’ not saying that people should not go to university.

In fact, she has a first-class degree in business studies from the University of Brighton.

‘I am definitely not saying that people shouldn’t go to university if they have the opportunity to do so, but I do believe it might not be the right route for everyone,’ she added. ‘Universities are getting more competitive and expensive, but if that is someone’s preferred option, that’s great. ‘Work-based training can be a fine option for young people to consider.’

Her comments come as the Coalition has come under fire for plans to allow fees for UK undergraduates of up to £9,000 a year. Students’ tuition fees are paid by the Government in the first instance, with graduates paying back the loan when they earn more than £21,000.

Britain is grappling with a youth unemployment problem among 16 and 17-year-olds, according to official figures. Nearly 40 per cent of this age group are unemployed, which means nearly 220,000 are desperately searching for a job.

McDonald’s is one of the largest employers of people under the age 21. Every week, around 200 of its workers get an NVQ. This is free, and the fast-food chain provides them with text books and access to a computer. They typically study during their lunch break, or before or after their shifts.

Meanwhile, research published today shows that many graduates are ending up in menial jobs such as waitressing. A shocking 42 per cent of this summer’s graduates will be ‘under-employed’ in a job for which a degree is not needed, according to the Centre for Economic and Business Research. It found students doing law, history, philosophy and languages will fare the worst, with more than 50 per cent finding they are under-employed.


Small-minded Connecticut school

Normal people like to see romance -- but not this sour headmistress

A TEENAGER has been barred from attending his senior prom after posting an oversize message to the front of his high school asking his classmate to go with him.

James Tate, an 18-year-old senior at Shelton High School, and two friends posted a 12-inch (30cm) tall cardboard letters outside the school's main entrance last Thursday night so students would see the message in the morning, said.

The letters read: "Sonali Rodrigues, Will you go to the prom with me? HMU -Tate." HMU means "hit me up," or "call me."

The target of Tate's affection - Rodrigues - said yes, but the Advanced Placement student and his two friends have been given one-day in-house suspensions by the headmaster and barred from the prom.

"I was telling her for the longest time that I was going to go with her, but, you know, I was waiting for a special time, special way to ask her," Tate told FOX CT. "And then I did that, and this is what happened."

Repeated calls to Shelton High School Headmaster Beth Smith were not returned today, but Tate told The Connecticut Post he had been informed the posting constituted trespassing and posed a safety risk.

The city's mayor, Mark Lauretti, has jumped to Tate's defence, saying he is unsure that the "punishment fits the crime." "This may very well be a situation that needs a second look," he said.

"Part of the problem in today's world is that we make policies or recommendations without common sense or flexibility built in and we lose sight of the big picture. This may be one of those situations."

Mr Lauretti said Tate and his family have deep "roots" in the community, with his father serving on a city commission and his mother on the city's historical society. "They're very involved," he said. "I would hope that higher priorities are given to higher offences. I'm not sure what the crime is here; we're talking about something that happened at night."

Shelton Police Department Lieutenant Robert Kozlowsky told that the incident was not handled by authorities. "That wasn't a police matter," he said, adding that no complaints had been received in connection to the incident. "It's something we could go to [reports of trespassing], but we weren't involved in that."

Tom Murphy, a spokesman for the Connecticut State Department of Education, said local school officials "do have the authority" to investigate the incident and to determine what is a "fair and appropriate" disciplinary action.

"At the same time, a student does have the right to appeal and to request reconsideration," Mr Murphy said. "But attending the prom is a privilege. Students should understand that. Students are expected to follow the rules to take part in an extracurricular activity."


Australia: More bungling from the NSW Education Dept. over school heaters

In a bureaucracy, nobody gives a damn

AFTER decades of insisting unflued gas heaters were safe, the NSW Department of Education has installed flued heaters at Blackheath Public School - but the school had already installed reverse-cycle airconditioning.

Parents are angry the department did not reimburse the $44,000 parents helped raise to install the units a year ago.

Richard Kalina, who has campaigned against unflued gas heating and whose daughter attends Blackheath Public School, said the decision was an "appalling waste" of resources. "Blackheath now has two sets of heating," he said.

A Greens NSW MP, John Kaye, said the school found itself "in the ridiculous position of having two heating systems". But Hazelbrook Primary School, in the lower Blue Mountains, had missed out on flued heaters. "The sensible option would be to remove the flued units from Blackheath and take them down the road to Hazelbrook.

"The Labor government should never have let the situation reach the level of desperation that caused parents to resort to using their own money to buy a safe heater solution."

A spokesman for the department said the flued heaters, installed last week, were more cost-effective to operate than reverse-cycle airconditioning.

He said when the school raised the possibility of installing airconditioning in early 2009, the department recommended this be delayed until the outcome of the Woolcock Institute report on the use of unflued gas heaters in schools was known.

The report, published in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives, found respiratory illness was higher in classrooms with the heaters and levels of nitrogen dioxide and formaldehyde were "substantially increased" when they were on.

"The airconditioning was installed in April 2010, before the mid-2010 announcement, after the report's release, of flued gas heating for the 100 coldest schools, including Blackheath," the spokesman said. "While the school will not be reimbursed for installing airconditioning, this equipment can be used for cooling during the summer months."


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