Skills & Education

Why It Matters

At McDonald’s, we believe that we all get better together – that education and training can unlock a world of potential for people and communities. 

That’s why, together with our Franchisees, McDonald’s has a long-standing commitment to provide training, education and career pathways to empower people and the communities we serve. We are dedicated to providing learning and development opportunities for people at all stages of their journey, whether they choose to build a career with McDonald’s, or beyond. This way, we’re supporting everyone as they enhance their skills and fulfill their potential. 

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Our Strategy

Supporting Employees to Learn and Grow

At McDonald’s, people are the face of our brand and critical to our success. Our ambition is to leverage our scale to provide training and education programs to help build a path forward, no matter where they are in their lives. 

For those who choose to build a career with McDonald’s, our training, education and leadership development programs can take them to the highest levels of our organization. Regardless of where someone starts at McDonald’s, everyone has an opportunity to grow and progress through a variety of pathways. From apprenticeship opportunities, to language and technical skill training, to support for continuing education, we are committed to helping employees continue their path forward.

Employee Spotlight

Isabelle Kuster began her career at McDonald’s in France in 1985 as a restaurant trainee manager. She worked her way up through the restaurant into our staff roles, where she has held various leadership roles in multiple countries, including France, Belgium and Austria. Today, Isabelle is a Vice President of the European Business Unit, where she oversees McDonald’s in 23 countries. 


My time in the restaurant taught me many of the fundamental skills I believe are key to success in today’s workplace. The problem solving, innovative thinking, communication and leadership skills I built in the restaurant have supported me throughout my career.
Isabelle Kuster


Supporting Our Local Communities

We strongly believe that education and training are critical to lifelong success, which is why we extend our focus to the communities in which we operate. 

Around the world, almost one in four young people is not in employment, education, or training (Decent Jobs for Youth), which can dramatically impact skills development, earning capacity, long-term employability and well-being. This, in turn, can have negative long-term impacts on communities. We want this to change. That’s why we’re partnering with local organizations to provide critical life skills and early job opportunities that are essential to long-term success.


Supporting the Sustainable Development Goals

By leveraging the immense scale of the McDonald’s System to provide learning and development opportunities to employees and young people in our communities around the world, we are working to make a lasting global impact. 

Our investments in skills and education support the UN Sustainable Development Goals, a global agenda to end poverty, protect the planet and ensure prosperity for all, in particular:

Our Actions
Fostering Career Growth Through Apprenticeships

Apprenticeships are an important way for young people to access development opportunities. The apprenticeships McDonald’s and participating Franchisees offer in some communities combine workplace training and study, enabling people to gain practical work experience and new skills that will last a lifetime – all while earning money at the same time. 

We recognize the importance of meeting people where they are, which is why in many communities the Company and participating Franchisees offer apprenticeship programs at various levels, so that people of all ages and at all stages of their educational and professional journey can build a career, regardless of previous experience or qualifications. 

In Europe, McDonald’s and participating Franchisees have pledged to offer 45,000 apprenticeships by 2025. Through this pledge, McDonald’s joined the European Alliance for Apprenticeships to help promote and improve access to vocational training for young people. These apprenticeships are offered in Austria, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Switzerland and the U.K. In the first year of the commitment, McDonald’s offered more than 13,000 apprenticeships across the participating markets.

Providing Comprehensive Educational Support

McDonald’s and participating Franchisees offer education opportunities to restaurant employees in 25 countries and counting.

Because we believe opportunity starts with education, in 2018 we invested in Archways to Opportunity, a comprehensive education program that offers eligible employees the opportunity to graduate from college, earn a high school diploma, learn English as a second language, complete an apprenticeship and gain access to advising services.

By the Numbers: Impact of Archways to Opportunity

Find out how Archways to Opportunity has made an impact in the lives of individuals around the world.


  • McDonald’s Archways to Opportunity has increased access to education for more than 54,000 people.

  • 39,000 restaurant employees awarded college tuition maintenance.

  • Almost 900 graduates in the Career Online High School program.

  • 7,400+ graduates from English Under the Arches since 2007.

  • $100 million awarded in high school and college tuition assistance.



  • Across the U.K. business since 2006, 80,000+ qualifications have been gained and 18,500+ qualified apprentices have come through the year-long training program.

  • 22,000+ employees have gained math and English qualifications through free Skills for Life training.

  • 169 managers have gained a foundation degree.

  • Achieved 4 awards at the School Leaver Awards 2020.

    • Best level of Responsibility

    • Top Employer – Hospitality & Tourism

    • Top Employer – Large School Leaver Intake

    • Best School Leaver Programme



  • McDonald’s Australia has been a registered training organization (RTO) since 1997, providing nationally recognized training to its employees in the areas of retail, business, barista skills and food safety.

  • As of June 30, 2020, more than 47,000 qualifications have been issued.

  • McDonald’s has been recognized consistently both nationally and in each state in the National Training Awards. 


Training Future Leaders at Hamburger University

Since it first opened its doors in 1961, McDonald’s Hamburger University has grown to nine campuses around the world and prepared thousands of students for leadership positions in the restaurant industry. It provides training for Company-owned restaurant employees, as well as Franchisees and eligible employees from their organizations.

Contrary to its name, the university is about a whole lot more than cooking burgers. Over the past few years, thousands of people have learned management and leadership skills that enable them to become the best that they can be – for themselves, their restaurant and the customers they serve. In many areas, students are even eligible to receive college credits for their courses.


Developing the Skills for Success Through Youth Opportunity

In 2018, we set a global goal to reduce barriers to employment for 2 million young people by 2025 through our Youth Opportunity program.


To achieve this ambition, we are focused on a few key areas where we believe we can have the greatest impact:  

Training and Developing Young People 

In the U.S., we have partnered with local community organizations and the International Youth Foundation (IYF), which has over two decades of experience in youth development around the world, to offer a pre-employment work-readiness and soft skills training program. The program is designed to help young people develop the competencies employers look for in entry-level employees, such as self-awareness and management, communication skills, healthy relationship building and conflict management. In addition to being considered for job opportunities at Company-owned and participating franchised restaurants, graduates from the training have the chance to pursue opportunities with potential employers across a variety of industries, such as healthcare, supply chain logistics and IT.

Internationally, McDonald’s, or its Franchisees in participating markets, has partnered with local organizations and programs to provide pre-employment training to young people, as part of the Youth Opportunity initiative. For example, in 2019, McDonald’s Italy worked with a local certified training partner to provide a training program for young people not in employment, education or training. The program provided participants with the technical skills necessary to search for, apply, interview and secure a job, as well as essential soft skills such as time management, interpersonal skills and ethical behavior.  

Supporting Community-Based Organizations 

To ensure our youth training and development efforts make a meaningful impact, we team up with local organizations embedded in their communities. We know that these partnerships are critical to reaching young people where they are.

When we launched the Youth Opportunity program in Chicago, IL, in 2018, McDonald’s distributed $1 million in grants to four local organizations with deep regional roots and decades of experience serving young people and their communities. These organizations paired relevant skills training programs with a specialized version of IYF’s curriculum, developed in partnership with McDonald’s, to offer a pre-employment work-readiness and soft skills training program. 

The partnership proved incredibly successful, and over 4,200 young people received life skills training through the Chicago pilot, exceeding the initial goal of reaching 4,000 youth in the program’s first year. Of those participants surveyed after completing the program, 87% reported an increase in life skills and 71% were engaged in education or employment. Following the success of the pilot program, McDonald’s expanded it to Washington D.C. in July 2019, once again in partnership with local organizations in the area. 

As of the end of 2019, over 9,500 young people had received training through the program across Chicago and Washington D.C. Of those that completed the program, 71% are either employed or in education, with 73% reporting an increase in life skills. 

Partnering to Accelerate Efforts 

We know we cannot solve youth unemployment alone, which is why, in 2018, McDonald’s joined the Global Initiative on Decent Jobs for Youth, a United Nations-led multi-stakeholder initiative, to help accelerate efforts to tackle the youth employment challenge. 

With 64 million young people unemployed worldwide, the youth employment challenge is vast and affects all countries. This new initiative by McDonald’s has the potential to support many young women and men, especially in disadvantaged areas, with relevant skills for employability and targeted strategies to boost their transition into quality jobs – jobs that protect their rights and support their development.

Sukti Dasgupta, Chief, Employment and Labour Market Policies Branch, ILO


McDonald’s also partners with local governments and regional initiatives to multiply our impact. Through its Youth Opportunity program, our Latin American Franchisee Arcos Dorados has established strategic alliances with leading NGOs focused on education and skills development. These programs reach an average of 250,000 young adults between 16 and 24 every year. 


Engaging With Young People

In 2019, McDonald’s and IYF launched the Youth Opportunity Youth Ambassador Program. The youth ambassadors give their perspective on issues that are barriers to success for Youth Opportunity program participants, as well as feedback on the program’s ability to support them. We also completed the development of a digital complement to the Youth Opportunity life skills training in English and Spanish, with more to come.

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Our Performance


By 2025, reduce barriers to employment for 2 million young people.


Since July 2018, approximately 850,000 young people participated in training programs and/or have been hired in McDonald’s or participating Franchisee restaurants1.

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1 Participating markets include United States, Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Mexico, Italy, UK, Spain, Canada, China, Hong Kong, Korea, Japan, Switzerland, Portugal, Australia