New McDonald’s Program Helps Workers Transition Into New Career Fields

McDonald's in Northwest Washington DC on January 19, 2015. Coast-to-Coast/Getty Images

McDonald’s just announced a new program that offers employees advice on how to advance in their careers — whether it’s with the fast-food chain or not.

Called “Where You Want To Be,” it gives workers the opportunity to explore new careers by shadowing real-life experts in their chosen field. The campaign is in conjunction with the company’s career and education advising program, Archways to Opportunities.

“Through this campaign and our ongoing education investments we are committed to helping all of those who come work for us — or our independent franchisees — to see the possibility of their own potential,” said Melissa Kersey, McDonald’s U.S. chief people officer, in a press release.

Earlier this year, the fast-food behemoth commissioned a survey that asked more than 6,000 U.S. adults — including McDonald’s employees aged 16-24 and alumni — what soft skills they deemed most valuable, as well as which career fields they desire most. The top employment paths were arts and entertainment, health care, technology, entrepreneurship and food service.

Applying the results to the “Where You Want To Be” campaign, McDonald’s is partnering with experts from each industry who will serve as role models for what it takes to excel in their field.

Experts participating include dermatologic surgeon Dr. Meena Singh, author James Altucher and digital content creator Tyler Oakley.

(No word on the arts and entertainment expert, but fingers crossed it’s Lady Gaga.)

Employees interested in participating are asked to submit a video application that explains what soft skills they are learning at McDonald’s and how they’ll apply them to future endeavors. A select group will be chosen to shadow the experts for a day.

Those not chosen will still have access to the Archways to Opportunities career tools, which can be used to select a career path and figure out the steps to pursue it.

Competing in a Hot Labor Market

It might seem counterproductive for a company to offer advice on how to prep for a professional future elsewhere, but McDonald’s could be adding these benefits as a way to fight the stiff competition among employers.

The labor market is flamin’ hot right now, so companies have upped the ante to bring in new employees. Rolling out better benefits and employment assistance programs is one way for employers to attract workers.

And this isn’t the company’s first move of the year to beef up benefits. In March, McDonald’s announced plans to triple its tuition assistance allocation, and lowered the eligibility requirements.

Other restaurant chains offering career and education assistance to draw and retain workers include Taco Bell, Starbucks and Chipotle Mexican Grill.

Kaitlyn Blount is a staff writer at The Penny Hoarder.