On the development and performance of apprenticeship-type schemes within the French vocational alternating training system
The French VET (Vocational Education and Training) system contains several work-based and apprenticeship-type training programmes. However, there are dominantly two main and well established apprenticeship-type schemes integrating within the French work-based alternating training system (formantion en alternance): apprenticeship and professionalisation contracts. Both are employment contracts signed between the employer and the employed trainee (Arrighi & Mora, 2010a, 2010b; Monteil, 2014; Boudesseul, Cart, Couppié,Giret, Lemistre, Toutin & Werquin, 2014).
The apprenticeship contract scheme constitutes the second main component of the IVET (Initial Vocational education and Training) system after the school-based IVET. Its main aim is to facilitate the transition of young people from school to work by allowing those aged from 16 to 26 years (and over for handicapped people) to obtain certification-based vocational qualifications within the IVET system, through an alternation between on-the-job training (60% to 75% of the contractual time) and an apprenticeship training centre (CFA-Centre de Formation d'Apprentis) (Brochie & Romani, 2015; Arrighi & Ilardi , 2013; Bourdon, Guégnard & Michot, 2012; Steedmann, 2010).
Integrating within the CVT (Continuing Vocational Training) system, the “professionalisation contract” scheme is also a dual system based on alternation between on-the-job training (75% to 85% of the contractual time) and in-house training for the remaining time. It targets the professional integration or re-integration within the labour market of both young and older people (including long duration unemployed job-seekers and other disadvantaged individuals) by allowing them to have access to workplace learning and certification-based vocational qualifications (Pesonel, 2015; Costenoble & Toutin, 2012; European Commission, 2012).
This paper deals with the development and the inclusive performance of apprenticeship-type schemes within the French vocational alternating training system. It is an analytical investigation into the legal and institutional evolution, the training organisation and methods, the inclusive performance and the perspectives for future development of the two main components of the French work-based alternating training system: “apprenticeship contract” and “professionalisation contract” schemes.
The research investigation in this paper is primarily based on desk research and available statistics, documentation and related performance evaluation studies and reports published by the ministries of education and employment, completed by conducting a set of semi-structured interviews with involved stakeholders connected with the industrial, commercial and service sectors with specific reference to the construction and machinery-engineering branches of activity. The analysis of the outcomes of the investigation is presented through the following basic sections of the paper: a)-historical, legal and institutional background developments; b)-institutional setting patterns, organisation, methods and quality assurance of training; c)-inclusive performance evaluation and perspectives for future development.
In the light of the primary analysis of the outcomes of the conducted research in this paper, some of the observed overall tendencies can be underlined: a)-The beneficiaries of both apprenticeship and professionalisation employment contracts are observed to represent, on average, 2% of all the occupied workforce within the French labour market; b)- Apprenticeship-type of work-based alternating training system constitutes the best performing component of the French VET system in terms of the effective access to the labour market of its qualified beneficiaries. The access rate of holders of qualifications within this system is far higher than in the case of the holders of the same qualifications through the usual school-based VET system. On average, about 80% of qualified apprentices find jobs within a period of six months after the completion of their apprenticeship. Some of them are even recruited straightaway by the same companies involved directly in their apprenticeship training programmes. For instance, in about 30% of cases on average within the mechanical-engineering companies, the ending fixed-duration apprenticeship contracts are transformed into permanent work contracts.
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