McDonald's serves up 'Diplomas'
McDonald's has won approval to offer courses which could form part of a qualification at the standard of A-levels or advanced Diplomas.
The fast-food giant, airline Flybe and Network Rail are the first firms to be approved to offer the Level 3 courses.
It means students could combine units from in-house courses with others to obtain the new Diplomas, which combine practical and theoretical learning.
Prime Minister Gordon Brown said this did not mean standards would fall.He told GMTV: "It is going to be a tough course, but I think that is the important thing, companies prepared to train people up which they weren't doing before, in the way that we want them to do, in a far greater number, so that people have the qualifications for the future."
Universities secretary John Denham said it was an important step towards ending the old divisions between company training schemes and national qualifications.
The move follows concerns raised by business leaders that schools, colleges and even universities are failing to equip youngsters for the world of work.
But critics complain that the Diplomas they see as the answer to the issue are not sufficiently academically rigorous.