Some people are being a bit sniffy about the news that McDonald’s has been approved to offer the new level 3 advanced diplomas, along with Flybe and Network Rail. Who, they ask, would want a McDonald’s qualification in management?
The obvious answer is – people who have jobs as managers at McDonald’s. Which is, after all, the whole point of the qualification. I’m no fan of fast food, and dislike McDonald’s particularly as a company, but they do run a very efficient operation, widely admired in the industry, and employ lots of people. The idea that their employees shouldn’t be allowed to get qualifications to develop and recognise their skills is, frankly, regressive and snobby.
There are wider, ongoing arguments about the relationship between vocational and academic qualifications, of course. I’ll note, though, that people who see themselves as defenders of tradition in this debate are defending a pretty recent tradition. Universities were always vocational from the very start – the pure academic study idea is at best a C19th invention and arguably much later.
(Which reminds me of one of my favourite Oxbridge urban legends: the College is discussing what to do with a generous bequest. The Bursar suggests investing it in property, “because property has been an excellent investment over the last 500 years.” “That may be so,” counters the Dean, “but you must remember that the last 500 years have been exceptional.”)