Apprenticeships

Adaptation, Qualification and Orientation Contracts

Many young people in France look forward to starting work and learning a trade, and the vast majority who don’t go on to higher education enter an apprenticeship or another form of vocational training.

A strong emphasis is placed on training, and few school-leavers go directly into a job without it. It’s normal practice for those leaving school at 16 to attend a technical college or train as an apprentice. Most parents and students are acutely aware that academic qualifications and training are of paramount importance in obtaining a good job (or any job), and virtually every child is given the opportunity to study for a trade diploma or degree.

A French apprenticeship ( apprentissage) aims to give people aged between 16 and 26 who have completed compulsory schooling a general, theoretical and practical training, leading to a certificate of vocational or technological education at secondary or a higher level. The French apprenticeship scheme is recognised as one of the best in the world.

An apprenticeship is a combination of on-the-job training and further education, where one or two days per week (a minimum of 400 hours per year) are spent at an apprentice training centre ( centre de formation d’apprentis/CFA). An apprent­iceship lasts from one to three years, depending on the type of profession and the qualification sought.

It can be in almost any vocation from carpentry to hairdressing, in the private or public sector. School careers officers are available to advise parents and students on a choice of career. Employers pay a small salary that increases with age and experience, and also pay for apprenticeship schooling and possibly the cost of travel to and from school.

Other types of vocational training aimed principally at jobseekers ( demandeur d’emploi) include the following:

Further information about apprenticeships and vocational training can be obtained from a regional Direction du Travail, de l’Emploi et de la Formation Professionnelle, from Pole Emploi and from Centre d’Information et d’Orientation (CIO) offices. For the address of your local CIO office, contact your mairie.

This article is an extract from Living and working in France. Click here to get a copy now.


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