Super-sized studies

Fast food giant McDonald’s belief in fast-tracking careers has seen it sponsor two different tertiary programmes designed specifically for staff to acquire business knowledge while juggling the demands of work in the hospitality industry.

Sim Peck Suan’s career as a hospitality professional has seen tremendous growth since she first joined McDonald’s Singapore as a part-time barista five years ago.

Today, she is a second assistant manager at McDonald’s Causeway Point, where she leads a team of 10 crew members and oversees daily restaurant operations.

Sim attributes her progress to the company’s consistent practice of providing employees with ample training and educational opportunities.

Sponsored education

Besides basic mandatory training in areas like customer service and food preparation, Sim also completed a National Institute of Technical Education Certificate in food and beverage (F&B) operations through a fully-sponsored programme jointly run by ITE College West and McDonald’s Singapore.

After graduating with an impressive 3.81 grade point average (out of 4.0), she then joined McDonalds’ Restaurant Management Trainee programme, where she received on-the-job training in business processes like cost management, inventory planning, driving sales, and hiring and training crew members.

Last month, she received another academic opportunity, becoming part of the first batch of 22 employees to enrol in a new part-time Diploma in Business Practice (International HR Management), offered by McDonald’s in partnership with Republic Polytechnic.

The course of study is, again, entirely paid for by the fast food chain.

Along with other selected restaurant managers, Sim will undertake business modules in Organisational Development, Learning and People Development, and Manpower Resourcing and Management.

Apart from not having to reach into their own pocket for the educational opportunity, employees who participate in the programme are also not bonded to the company for any length of time after completion.

Equipping managers

McDonald’s decision to sponsor the diploma programme was based around the need for restaurant managers to be better equipped with business and management skills, in order to effectively run all aspects of their restaurant, says Lynn Hong, Director of HR, McDonald’s Singapore.

Managers have to be prepared to make business decisions, acquire the right talent, groom potential leaders, and ensure customer service standards are met and exceeded.

“This diploma will equip managers with those skills and will give them sound business fundamentals enabling them to progress as F&B professionals,” says Hong.

“In a highly competitive and fast-changing customer-centric environment, continuous learning is crucial to success, so we support our employees in their learning journeys.”

The organisation is committed to helping its people reach their full potential because it understands the value they bring to the table.

“Our people are our greatest asset and having an engaged and motivated workforce is critical in delivering exceptional service for our customers,” says Hong.

“This is why we want to empower our employees to grow in their careers, giving them training and development opportunities such as the sponsored Diploma in Business Practice.”

This new education initiative also complements McDonald’s existing structured training programme, which provides employees with development and educational opportunities to skill them up at every stage of their careers.

Customised calendar

McDonald’s chose to work with RP because of the tertiary institution’s Diploma in Business Practice (International HR Management), which offers modular certificates in areas that impart sound business fundamentals and skills that F&B professionals need to advance in the industry. 

However, because restaurant staff work on shifts, attending classes based on the existing three days-a-week academic calendar would have been extremely difficult. 

So, to ensure that employees are able to pursue the diploma while maintaining their full-time jobs at McDonald’s, Hong said the HR team worked with Republic Polytechnic to customise an academic calendar that condensed classes into just one and a half days per week.

Because of the less rigorous academic calendar, Sim has been able to balance her diploma studies with the demands of work.

“This opportunity allows me to further my education while acquiring greater managerial skills that I can apply at work, so I really appreciate and look forward to it,” she says.

“I believe that the diploma complements McDonald’s existing technical, on-the-job training and will ultimately make me a more well-rounded manager.”

The making of coffee masters

McDonald’s Singapore’s McCafé Training Academy at the Institute of Technical Education (ITE) College West is the first of its kind in the region.

The academy, which serves primarily as a barista training facility, also trains and prepares individuals for the growing food and beverage scene across Asia-Pacific.

Trainees are put in authentic work situations, as the McCafé Training Academy replicates the design and equipment used as in an actual McCafé outlet.

The collaboration and cooperation between barista trainers from McCafé, and ITE staff and students at the academy also provides an effective platform for exchange and development of new F&B products and service ideas.

As part of the collaboration, McDonald’s also started a new National Institute of Technical Education Certificate in F&B Operations traineeship – an “earn-as-you-learn” programme that gives trainees on-the-job practical training with the restaurant and off-the-job learning at ITE.


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