Flipping burgers could become a positive part of a student's curriculum vitae under plans to accredit work experience.
Crac, the Careers Research and Advisory Centre, is to pilot a scheme in 15 universities for 2001-02, whereby students can gain credit for work experience.
Participating institutions include the universities of Loughborough, North London and Glamorgan. The programme will be expanded to 60 universities by 2002.
Students will gain recognition for their existing work, as well as volunteering or student union involvement. There will be workshops at the beginning and end of the programme, as well as facilities such as online mentoring.
Project coordinator Adam Nichols said: "This is an accredited award for casual work experience, paid or unpaid. The idea is to maximise learning from what students are already doing. We are trying to turn what could be wasted time into productive time."
He said a student working in a fast-food restaurant, for example, "may not be in a team leader position, but they will have someone leading them and they can learn quite a lot from that... such as communication and team work."
The scheme, named Insight Plus, will be run in conjunction with student unions, careers services and job shops.
The programme is endorsed by companies such as PricewaterhouseCoopers, Consignia and Mars. Students will receive certificates in supervisory management.