Professional Training in France

Diplomas that can be obtained through alternance training

Alternance training enables an employee to obtain a recognised professional qualification.

The core principle of alternance training is identical no matter what form of contract is concerned or which diploma is sought, i.e. a training programme which alternates between education by a relevant school or institute in the theory of the discipline concerned which is then put into practice within the employer business.

Numerous and varied types of alternance diplomas are available, reflective of all sectors of activity.

The benefits of alternance training

Alternance training is an option in almost all types of profession!

Training apprentices in alternance allows them to validate the theory that they have acquired in formal lessons via practical experience in the workplace. Training an employee in alternance

eases their integration into the company, should the employer wish to do so, on a full time basis following the completion of the diploma or qualification.

Alternance recruitment permits an employer to train new workers in a fashion which is best tailored to maximise their competence and abilities for the relevant activity.

Apprentices have the right to payment under the scheme, however businesses who employee trainees also benefit from grants and tax exemptions.

What type of diploma can be obtained under an alternance training contract?

Alternance training facilitates preparation for numerous types of diploma from secondary to third level education.

The level of qualification varies according to the nature of the employment contract between the employer and apprentice. The apprenticeship contract or vocational training contract models allow businesses and trainees to adapt to differing professional training objectives.

Accessible from high school to Master’s degree level, alternance training concerns a variety of professional qualifications in all sectors of activity.

The difference between an apprenticeship training contract and a vocational training contract

The two types of contract differ in terms of their respective objectives and this is reflected in the qualifications earned.

For the apprenticeship training contract, this involves, “theoretical and practical training with a view to obtaining a recognised professional certificate or diploma”.

A vocational training contract has as its goal, “the obtention of a qualification and encouragement of the integration, or re-integration, of the candidate in the workplace”.

In reality, only the apprenticeship training contract leads to second level state diplomas and 3rdlevel education (CAP, BTS, DUT, licence,master, etc.).

The two contracts allow trainees to obtain a Diploma or professional qualification recognised by the RNCP (the National Directory of Professional Certification).

With the goal of fulfilling the specific needs of business, the vocational training contract offers the opportunity to obtain a relevant trade certificate (CQP) or a qualification that is recognised by national convention.

State recognised diplomas can be obtained from secondary school onwards

Diploma Sector concerned Length of training Manner of alternation
CAP Commerce, industry, services Entry to 215 types of CAP – 2 years after troisièmeclass – 1 year after a professional class of seconde – 1 year following the 1st year of the CAP – A week in class, a week in the workplace
BP All sectors, particularly; sales, beauty & hairdressing, floral art and butchery 2 years – Per week: 2 days of class + 3 days of practical work – One shared day; half a day in class, half a day in the workplace – One week in class, 2 weeks in the workplace
Bac Pro Diverse domains, e.g. service industries, commerce, agriculture, health and social work – 3 years aftertroisièmeclass – 2 years after a CAPor a BEP – Period of teaching of theory based classes on professional techniques and general subjects – 22 weeks of internships spread over the 3 years of the training course

State accredited post-baccalaureate diplomas which may be obtained via alternance training

Diploma Advantages Length of training
BTS or Brevet de Technicien Supérieur – Remuneration – The student’s status (trainee or employee) within the host company shall determine the level of remuneration – 1 to 3 years depending on the initial diploma – Generally 2 years for an apprenticeship contract – To have passed the baccalaureate
DUT or Diplôme Universitaire de Technologie – Lectures and tutorials in establishments of education – Practical work, projects guided by tutors and internships in businesses 2 years post-baccalaureate – To have passed the baccalaureate – 3rd level students with a view to diversification training – Validation of work experience (VAE)
Degree or Professional Licence – Part-time employee status – Real experience as opposed to a stereotypical theory-based degree 3 years post-baccalaureate(undergraduate level) Baccalaureate
DCG ( Accounting and FinanceDiploma) – Significant work experience – Possible bonus – Flexible hours 3 years post-baccalaureate Bacc L, ESand SBacc technologiques STT et STG – Holder of a BTS in Accounting & organisational management
Bachelor ou Diplôme École de commerce – Practical application in the workplace – Possible bonus 3 years post-admission (up to 5 years for certain programmes) – Accessible post-baccalaureate or following a preparatory class, or via admission certificate from bac+2
Engineering degree – Practical application in the workplace – Possible bonus 3 years post-admission – Accessible post-baccalaureate or following a preparatory class, or via admission certificate from bac+2
Master – Training realised for the most part in the workplace – Possible bonus – 2 years post-bachelor’s degree – 12 to 18 months for the MSc (Master of Science) – Holder of a bachelor’s degree

Levels of RNCP recognised qualification obtainable via alternance training

Level I: Equivalent to a masters degree, doctorate or diploma from a recognised 3rd level institution (Bac + 5)
Level II: Equivalent to a bachelors or masters degree (Bac + 3, Bac + 4)
Level III: Equivalent to a DUT, BTSor the end of the 1st cycle of higher education (Bac + 2)
Level IV: Equivalent to a BP (brevet professionnel), BT (brevet de technicien), Professional or technological Baccalaureate
Level V: Equivalent to a CAP or CFPA (adult vocational training certificate)

Are alternance diplomas recognised in industry?

The same recognition is afforded to all diplomas whether they be obtained through alternance training or initial education. Alternance training, has however, the additional advantage of integrating its trainees in the professional world.

After completing their training, the alternants benefit from a particular professional recognition due to the professional experience gained throughout their course.

Operational Preparation for Collective Employment (POEC)

Operational Preparation for Collective Employment is a mechanism that has been created in order to facilitate the reinsertion of jobseekers into the workforce via professional training and to respond to the recruitment needs of business.

It permits a group of jobseekers to benefit from the acquisition of the necessary professional competences required by the types of employment which are facing recruitment difficulties.

The implementation of a POEC is made on the initiative of an OPCA (Accredited collecting fund for training) on the ground identified and agreed by the professional branch (or by the council of administration of the OPCA).

Beneficiaries of the POEC

The types of business concerned:

All businesses which have unmet needs in respect of the competences of their workforces may recruit an individual trained within the POEC mechanism.

Concretely, this concerns businesses which that are implicated in an OPCA that offers a POEC and wishes to recruit one or more employees under a fixed-term (CDD) or permanent contract (CDI) apprenticeship or vocational training contracts (12 months minimum).

The aim of the POEC is to facilitate access to long-term employment, however, the business concerned is under no obligation to offer such employment following the training period.

The members of the public who are concerned:

All jobseekers, whether or not they are indemnified by Pôle Emploi and irrespective of age.

Implementation of the POEC

Professional sectors and the OPCA analyse the needs of their adherents with respect to recruitment and skill-sets required so as to identify the type of training that should be developed within the POEC.

The implementation of the training programme is then carried out on the initiative of the OPCA of the professional branch of the business which has contracted a training institution to meet the qualification objectives of the POEC.

Then Pôle Emploi, acting in function of its role as the prescribing agent of jobseekers, verified that the professional project accurately corresponds to the qualification objectives defined by the training institution. Vetting of candidates is undertaken by the training institution.

Format of vocational training under a POEC

The maximum duration of the training period is 400 hours.

Training can be realised partially by alternating with on the job learning up to a maximum of 1/3 of the total training period.

POEC training providers are institutions that have already been officially recognised as providers of continuing professional training.

During the training period, the beneficiary of a POEC is not considered to be an employee of the business, but rather has the status of an intern following vocational training.

At the end of the POEC, the training provider shall deliver a certificate attesting to the capacities of each trainee except in those circumstances where the training is already validated by a title, diploma or other form of professional qualification certificate (CQP).

Operational Preparation for Collective Employment (POEC) provided by a training institution:

Carried out by a training institution that is registered with the local prefecture as an official training provider, this comprises the general teaching of the theories of vocational and technologically based professions which is carried out exclusively in dedicated premises.

Operational Preparation for Collective Employment (POEC) provided by a business accompanied by a tutor:

The practical work-experience training period may be realised by alternating with period of internal training within the business, however the POEC must always begin with a period of external training.

The internal training is given directly by the business’ own tutor, in its own premises.

A tripartite agreement must be signed by Pôle Emploi, the training provider and the business concerned. The external training provider is responsible for defining the training programme and its objectives in agreement with Pôle Emploi and the hiring business. It must also carry out an end of training-period evaluation.

The hiring commitment by the business at the end of the POEC is obligatory where the training takes place entirely or in part within the business and/or where the training institution is also in fact the business itself.

Financing of an accredited collecting fund for training (OPCA)

The financing of the pedagogical training is entirely undertaken by the OPCA responsible for the branch, with the support of the FPSPP

(Joint funding for career path security) under the terms of its policy of support for the qualifications of jobseekers.

Pôle Emploi is responsible for the transfer of indemnities to POEC beneficiaries throughout the course of their training.

During the POEC training, the jobseeker is thus remunerated by Pôle Emploi by means of a return-to-work training grant (AREF) or via the remunerated training scheme (RFPE) and under certain conditions, by assistance with costs associated with training (notably a mobility grant).

Procedure for the business

Employers who are potentially interested by the scheme should seek information concerning open training sessions which are offered by the OPCA for the appropriate professional sector and and identify those which best meet their needs for professional qualifications.

The business should then make contact with a training advisor from the OPCA who will direct it towards the appropriate training institution for the POEC.

The business’ selection of potential candidates is made on the basis of a number of pre-selection candidates recommended by Pôle Emploiand the training institution.

Alternance training institutions

The alternating training scheme enables the recruitment of workers who are already qualified for the tasks concerned.

Alternating training is a training method which enables the trainee to benefit from theoretical teaching dispensed by a training institution and from practical workplace experience within the company itself. It is based around two possible types of contract: The apprenticeship contract and the vocational training contract.

The apprenticeship contract is an employment contract between an apprentice and an employer within the framework of initial training. It enables the apprentice to acquire the professional competences certified by state diploma or certificate recognised by the National Directory of Professional Certification (RNCP).

The vocational training contract is concluded between the student and employer with the framework of continuing training. It allows the alternant to acquire a recognised professional qualification while simultaneously facilitating his or her professional re-insertion or return to employment.

Apprenticeship training institutions

Apprenticeship training institutions are teaching establishments which provide apprentices with a general and theoretical training course which intended to then be put into practice in the workplace.

The vast majority of apprenticeship training takes place within a CFA, an Apprentice Training Centre. Nonetheless, in order to meet the differing training needs, other training structures also exist. The methods and organisation structures used are defined by a creation convention, which will generally be approved by the Regional authority.

Training institutions acting in convention with the regional authority

The Apprentice Training Centre (CFA)

Alternance training institutions offer a state recognised diploma or certificate authorised by the RNCP.

CFAs are managed by private bodies (associations, enterprises, professional organisations, teaching institutions etc.), consular chambers (chambers of commerce and industry, chambers of handicraft, chambers of agriculture) or public bodies (local collectives, public establishments).

Training Section (SA)

A Training section is open periodically to correspond with a cycle of training. It has the objective of meeting a specific training need as expressed by one or more businesses.

An SA is created via an agreement between the regional authority, an EPLE (Local public teaching establishment) and one or more businesses for the duration of the training cycle.

Operating procedures and organisation, and therefore the content of the convention, are similar to those of the CFA.

The CFA and SA both benefit from a development council which acts as a consultative body and evaluates pedagogical programmes.

Institutions of apprenticeship training exist in convention with an Apprentice Training Centre (CFA)

Apprenticeship Training Unit (UFA)

Training unit within the framework of an EPLE. It functions in accordance with a CFA in order to assure, by way of delegation, the training of apprentices. In this way, a liaison committee is established within each institution where the UFA is located in order to ensure that the UFA functions in accordance with the convention and provides the appropriate links to the CFA.

Public or private establishment under agreement to provide a service

It provides training services on behalf of the CFA. It makes lodging and educational facilities in order to secure the training of a small number of apprentices.

Business authorised to provide vocational training via verification of the apprenticeship

(by the authority of the rector of the academy) or the appropriate regional director. The implementation of training draws on the administrative, financial and teaching structures of a CFA.

Vocational training institutions

The vocational training contract presents an advantage for a business in that it allows it to train its own employees in a manner which best suits the skill-sets it requires, rendering them more quickly operationally effective as part of the workforce.

Who can establish a vocational training institution?

No particular legal format is required by the texts concerned, any natural or legal person may exercise the activities of continuing vocational training.

Legal framework nonetheless imposes a certain format for the training institutions according to the nature of the trainer.

Any person who wishes to become a trainer may create his or her own structure under the guise of auto-entrepreneur (EI, EURL) or sub-contracting official.

If the said structure involves more than one trainer, the training institution must create a limited company under one of the pre-existing regimes: SARL, SCS, SASU, etc.

The obligations of alternance training institutions

Alternance training is available to the general public in a wide range of industries and disciplines.

Even though the activities of the trainer are not defined by any particular conditions, the law nonetheless requires certain dispositions in order to assure that training funding is being used correctly and that the public are accurately informed.

In this way, training institutions are obliged to:

  • formalise their business (identification, legal status, definition of activity)
  • provide a financial and training report by the 30thApril each year
  • comply with the national collective agreement concerning training institutions
  • apply specific accounting policies

About the Author

The author of this article, Eoin P. Campbell, is an honours law graduate (LL.B) and qualified as a solicitor in 2007. His professional experience includes personal injury litigation, business law, the law of contract, employment law and European law. Eoin is currently lecturing in the law faculty of a prestigious university based in Lyon, France.

N.B. Please note that the information contained in this article is intended to be advisory only. If you intend to commence employing people in France you are advised to discuss the issues raised above and any concerns you may have with an employment professional.