Ontario colleges now serving McDiplomas

Deal with Ontario Colleges gives McDonald’s managers a year of business credits

A groundbreaking partnership signed between McDonald’s Canada and Ontario Colleges will let McDonald’s managers to skip the first year of some business programs at public post-secondary institutions in the province.

Advocates of the partnership tout the wide range of potential benefits the deal could bring. One prominent boon the partnership might bring is the reduction of tuition as well as an increase in accessibility for McDonald’s employees looking to return to school.

“These aren’t just high school students, these are mature adults who live on their own, have families, bills and car payments,” said Tiffany White, director of education of the Student Association and a former employee of McDonald’s Canada. The Student Association funds The Dialog.

White said that wages made from working at McDonald’s can just cover an employee’s living expenses and not their tuition. “(Going to school) is not something many of them consider doing, so they continue to work at the job that they know is steady with decent hours and decent pay.”

Ontario Colleges announced the deal on Aug. 19 and it is available immediately to McDonald’s employees who have taken certain management-level training courses. The arrangement mirrors Archways to Opportunity, a similar program launched in April 2015 in the United States.

The partnership, as detailed in a Colleges Ontario press release, would grant a first-year credit for business and business administration programs if certain McDonald’s management courses are completed, permitting eligible students to reduce the time and money required to obtain their diploma by as much as half.

Maureen Loweth, the dean of business at George Brown College (GBC), thinks the partnership will provide new routes for employers to support their employees in furthering their education, especially in the face of the reduction of internal training budgets within Canadian companies.

“We’re really seeing it as a partnership that is showcasing a new way of thinking about how employers can actively support access to further education and training for their employees without repeating training that’s already been acquired,” said Loweth.

The Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU), which has locals representing George Brown staff, has been critical of the program. The union published a statement blasting the agreement as effectively outsourcing education away from public institutions and privatizing a vital public asset.

“There’s already a process in place for students to have their work and life experience credited, and ensuring the academic rigor of the program or course that they’re applying for PLAR (Prior Learning and Assessment Recognition) credit for,” said JP Hornick, the second vice president and chief steward for the faculty union at GBC.

“I actually see this as a continuation of a process of encroachment of the private sector into public post-secondary education,” added Hornick. “When you look at it, this may be unique in terms of our particular agreement with McDonald’s, but it’s not unique for private entities to seek to control curriculum or direct curriculum within the post-secondary sector.”

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Ontario colleges now serving McDiplomas