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McDonald’s Workforce Preparedness Study Shows Importance of Soft Skills Development in First Jobs

July 24, 2018

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Survey provides a multi-generational view around the importance of skills tying to career aspirations

McDonald’s today released the findings of its Workforce Preparedness Study that sought to understand American opinion of skills development and workforce preparedness across generations. Soft skills, such as teamwork, customer service and responsibility were found to be overwhelmingly important. McDonald’s commissioned Morning Consult to conduct a survey in May across the nation targeting 6,247 people in the general US population. This included 966 from the youngest workforce generation Gen Z (individuals 16-24) and 762 McDonald’s alumni.

“As the workforce gets older, our nation is facing a seismic shift in the workplace – one that will require all business owners to take a fresh look at employee training and development,” said Melissa Kersey, McDonald’s USA Chief People Officer. “As employers, we should re-examine which skills matter most, especially for the next generation entering the workforce. We should lay that foundation for employees to build the soft skills they need that will serve them throughout their career.”

Some of the key findings from the Workforce Preparedness Study include but are not limited to:

  • Soft skills, such as teamwork, customer service and responsibility are seen as more important than hard skills, such as computer programming or accounting for positioning young employees for success at the beginning of a career 

  • In terms of cultivating soft skills, workplace experience and in particular first jobs are seen as being especially important more so than developing them at school or home 

  • 88 percent of respondents considered the opportunity to develop soft skills “important,” including 60 percent who consider the opportunity to be “very important”
  • Former McDonald’s restaurant employees (48%) have higher confidence in their soft skills compared to the average respondent (40%)
  • As generations age, they believe it is more difficult for businesses to find qualified young people to meet the needs of the job
    • Gen Z (18-24 years) – 46%
    • Millennials (25 -37 years) – 54%
    • Other ages (38+ years) – 65%

Gen Z, America’s largest generation and the first born as digital natives, recognize their shortcomings of their skills. 37% percent of Gen Zs have gone as far as admitting that technology has weakened their ability to maintain strong interpersonal relationships and develop people skills, according to insights in Gen Z @ Work, a book on how the next generation is transforming the workplace. But most importantly, Gen Zs acknowledge they need help getting these skills as they find themselves struggling to get into the workforce.

“If we don’t address the current gap in soft skills, particularly for Gen Zs, it will have a detrimental impact on the future of work in our nation,” said Kersey. “As employers, we play the leading role in helping teach those skills. McDonald’s and our independent franchisees help restaurant employees develop that critical skill set every day whether it’s training them on delivering food to customers through table service to enhance their customer service skills, encouraging employees to work as a team to exceed customers’ expectations, or teaching them responsibility such as punctuality when they show up for their shift. This will have a long-term effect they can carry into their future careers.”

“This research validates the critical role employers and the right first job can play in training and preparing young people for their future,” said Cheryl Oldham, Senior Vice President, Center for Education and Workforce, U.S. Chamber of Commerce Foundation. “McDonald’s and its franchisees understand that upskilling entry-level employees will not only support their own business needs but it also helps provide the youngest generation opportunity for long-term career success.” 

As part of their effort to build a better McDonald’s, the company and its independent franchisees are committed to providing jobs that fit around the lives of restaurant employees, develop transferable skills for life and provide access to education and advancement opportunities. Recently, McDonald’s announced a $150 million dollar investment in the Archways to Opportunity education program, which nearly triples the amount of money restaurant employees can receive to further their development and education, and reduced the minimum time worked in order to be eligible for the benefit.

As a next step, McDonald’s USA will look at new and expanded strategic partnerships with organizations to develop new tools for restaurant employees that focus on developing skills and link to education and career advancement opportunities. New career exploration resources for eligible restaurant employees are expected to be available later this year.


About McDonald’s USA

McDonald's USA, LLC, serves a variety of menu options made with quality ingredients to more than 25 million customers every day. Nearly 90 percent of McDonald's 14,000 U.S. restaurants are independently owned and operated by businessmen and women who are independent employers, and set their own employment policies and practices, including pay and benefits for the people working in their restaurants. Customers can now log online for free at approximately 11,500 participating Wi-Fi enabled McDonald's U.S. restaurants. For more information, visit www.mcdonalds.com, or follow us on Twitter @McDonalds and Facebook at www.facebook.com/mcdonalds.