The 2011/03/29 at 09:04
In France, Chambers of Commerce and Industry (CCI) train some 600,000 persons ever year – 200,000 young people in core training and 400,000 adults in continuing education programmes. Providing services in apprenticeship, tertiary education (in collaboration with engineering and management schools) and continuing education, they deliver, throughout the territory, over 400 recognised qualific-ations and diplomas. “Chambers offer specific qualities in these three categories of skills,” observes Brigitte Le Boniec, Training Manager at the Assembly of French Chambers of Commerce and Industry (ACFCI). “Firstly, these training programmes offer a good balance between general culture and business expectations. Next, there is no definitive training programme, all must prove their worth in order to be continued each year; in other words, our system is self-regulating, which guarantees the utility of our training programmes. Also, Chambers train all levels, from vocational certificates such as the Certificat d’Aptitude Professionnelle to Master’s degrees, full time or in apprenticeship mode. Finally, the organisation is operating more and more as a network, with joint qualifications, identical charters of quality and pooled means.”
As training is supervised at a regional level, Chambers are already working, in this domain, on a regional scale. “In terms of training, the regionalisation reform of CCIs will be more like a confirmation of the conditions in which Chambers already work,” believes Bernard Legendre, Deputy General Manager in charge of training at the ACFCI. “Novelty resides in the fact that Chambers will need to adopt genuine collective thinking through sectorial training schemes that will emerge with the reform. In addition, as the Regional Chamber will be in charge of the budget, towns will need to join forces. In this way, Chambers are already thinking about the development of individual towns as clusters of expertise, complementing one another over the territory. In short, with the reform, we expect to see a rationalisation of actions in terms of training.” Here follows an overview of the current competences of Chambers and expected changes.
Apprenticeship has historically been overseen by CCIs. Committed to this role since the start of the 20th century, Chambers have, following the legislative evolutions of 1987 and 1990, widened their field of intervention in the form of CAP and BEP vocational skills certificates for senior-high school-level, then for post-secondary school studies. Today, CCIs constitute the leading apprenticeship training stream in France, accounting for 100,000 apprentices every year, at all levels and in all professions – in other words one-quarter of students who select this type of training! The regional scale is already decisive in that apprent-iceship training centres (CFAs) are created and financed by Regional Councils. Chambers also intervene by registering apprenticeship contracts for businesses – a total of one out of two –, by helping businesses to find apprentices, as well as by supporting some 120,000 young people every year. “Chambers are present throughout the domain of apprenticeship,” sums up Brigitte Le Boniec. In addition, Chambers also have a role to collect funds used for training, not the least of which is the taxe d’apprentissage or vocational education tax. In this way, they collect around 40 % of the total sum of this tax. “But this sum does not necessarily go the Chambers,” points out Bernard Legendre. “It is then distributed to other training establishments.” In the future, the question of the development of apprenticeship will depend on political and financial issues.
— Tertiary education
CCIs manage over 120 tertiary institutions, including grandes écoles specialising in management (a total of 28), and train 100,000 students every year. “These schools are unique to the French land-scape,” continues Bernard Legendre. “Certain are strategic schools for France – HEC, ESSEC, schools providing training for niche professions in the perfume, catering, film and entertainment sectors... However, Chamber teaching receives no State subsidies. It is financed by Chamber budgets, the vocational education tax, and 60% by tuition fees.” Recruitment procedures are selective, and the prox- imity of these schools with businesses allows a professional insertion rate of over 80%. These schools deliver qualifications or diplomas that they assemble by them-selves before they are validated by the State. The offer has also been aligned with the Bachelor-Master-Doctorate (BMC) system: tertiary business schools (écoles supérieures de commerce or ESC) and management schools (écoles de man-agement EM), as well as engineering schools provide qualifications equal to 5 years of university studies; management and business schools (EGC) provide quali-fications equal to 3 years of studies.
All schools have already been organised into national networks. “We are witnessing a rationalisation of pedagogy, a construction of joint qualifications and diplomas and joint actions for examination procedures...,” indicates Brigitte Le Boniec. In other words, means are being pooled in order to obtain better visibility, as was the case, for example, with the École de Gestion et de Commerce (EGC) de Bourgogne. Today, this establishment encompasses three others located in Chalon-sur-Saône (Saône-et-Loire), Nevers (Nièvre) and Sens (Yonne) under the same label: teaching in these establishments is identical, the diploma is the same, even if each city has preserved its own campus. This tendency may lead to regions holding a number of ESCs on their territories... Apart from the regionalisation of Chambers, the reform of tertiary education in France – the trend towards autonomy being given to universities, and the constitution of research and tertiary education poles (PRES) – weighs heavily upon the core training landscape, and this movement may well increase in force. “Our schools have stayed outside of this movement for the moment,” explains Bernard Legendre. “Only HEC and ESSEC have chosen to join PRES groupings.”
— Continuing education
Today, CCIs take in over 400,000 continuing education trainees every year, mainly in the sectors of trade, sales, accounting, management, IT and communications, and languages. “In order not to compete with training on a branch level, we position ourselves on transversal professions, service professions,” details Brigitte Le Boniec. “In terms of continuing education, Chambers are already organised on a regional level. This is the most relevant and practical level in that vocational training is a domain of the Region.” Such training takes place in tertiary schools, but also independent training centres. In this way, around one hundred language learning centres (centres d’études des langues or CEL) provide training in languages for business purposes: here, 26 languages are taught to employees and job seekers, in other words 20 % of the French market! Generally speaking, CCIs are the leading continuing education network for employees (almost 315,000 trainees per year). Training represents an annual budget of 1 billion euros in all Chambers. “Large companies are rationalising their training requests, which are being regrouped on a national level,” says Bernard Legendre. “Chambers, with their network, have the means to meet training demands on this scale.”