The 2011/04/29 at 14:29
Set up at the start of the 1970s, Agefos PME is an inter-professional and inter-branch OPCA (Authorised Joint Collection Body). Jointly representing employer committees (CGPME) and employee representative union bodies (CGC, CFDT, CGT, CFTC, FO), it collects compulsory contributions from businesses for the purposes of ongoing vocational training. It also takes charge of managing training expenses and oversees how these are attributed, playing an informational and consultancy role in the face of businesses and member employees. Apart from its “historic” missions, the OPCAs have, ever since the enforcement of the French bill of 24 November 2009 on lifelong vocational training, taken on two new missions: the prospective management of employment and qualifications, and the deliverance of close-range service. “These missions have been compulsory, since 2009, for all operators who must now comply, but Agefos PME had already long been at the cutting edge of such services, as pointed out by the 2008 IGAS report,” observes Laurence Carlinet, Development Manager of Agefos PME.
An OPCA for VSEs
Businesses with 20 employees and over must set aside 1.6 % of their combined salary expenses to training initiatives. This proportion is 1.05 % for businesses with 10 to 19 employees, and 0.55 % for those with under 10 employees. How can this obligation be turned into an investment? As an inter-professional and inter-branch OPCA, Agefos PME serves 305,000 enterprises (including 280,000 with under 10 employees), hosts 40 professional branches of trade, industry and services, and intervenes on behalf of 13 very large enterprises and 37 groups: in other words, it covers over 5.2 million employees. In its capacity as an inter-professional organism, Agefos PME is one of the only two French OPCAs to be entitled to receive a share of what is known as “free” training plan contributions pertaining to enterprises with over 10 employees that already pay branch contributions (for certain, professionalisation and plan contributions) to another OPCA. “Today, over half of the resources of Agefos PME relating to the training plans of enterprises with 10 employees and over, derives from SMEs that also pay ‘branch’ contributions to their branch OPCA. This is one of the best indicators of the appreciation of the quality of service offered by our network, for enterprises make out two cheques, one to their branch OPCA and another to Agefos PME for the free proportion of their ‘training’ contributions – and no one forces them to do so!” declares Laurence Carlinet.
A human resources expert
Agefos PME supports VSEs and SMEs on the ground, helping them to construct training plans that best meet specific needs, whether they be for essential professional skills or more transversal skills that nevertheless meet a real need. “Agefos PME consultants are experts in all spheres of human resources: they are thus capable of supporting businesses for financial engineering problems to best structure financing for different training measures, as well as path security or integration and returning to the workforce,” indicates Laurence Carlinet. Thanks to this tailor-made support, the rate of VSE members of Agefos PME undertaking training has progressed by 5 points in the space of two years, settling at 20 %, in other words almost 10 points above the national average.
Closer to needs
The implementation of training plans is generally not considered a priority for VSEs and SMEs, especially for companies lacking a dedicated human resources and training department. In this way, Laurence Carlinet considers it indispensable to approach small and medium-sized businesses that require information and advice. “This is one of the fundamental roles attributed to OPCAs by the law,” she insists. This is why, ever since its creation, close-range service is the very essence of Agefos PME. The organism places at the disposal of VSEs and SMEs competent professionals capable of listening to and understanding the training and employment issues of a region, a department or a job pool. In this way, Agefos PME is present throughout the national territory with 24 regional agencies and 84 local branches. “Out of the 1,200 Agefos PME employees, 1,100 work on the ground,” notes Laurence Carlinet.
Goal for 2012
To survive in 2012, around fifty existing OPCAs in France will need to obtain on 1 January 2012 a new approval status granted exclusively to those reaching a collection threshold of 100 million euros. With a collection sum of 801 million euros for 2009, the endurance of Agefos PME is under no threat. Yet in the face of the foreseeable reduction in the number of OPCAs, the organism is prepared to host new branches or OPCAs not reaching the required threshold and which might find, with the Section Paritaire Professionnelle (SPP or Joint Professional Section) mechanism set up by Agefos PME, common values of freedom of choice, equally represented autonomy and absolute respect of branch decisions. In addition, Agefos PME has, for many years now, imposed upon itself high stands of rigour in fund management, internal monitoring procedures and auditing guaranteeing the transparency and traceability of all actions. “We wish above all to remain the interlocutor for businesses and employees, capable of absorbing the complexity of issues to find the appropriate solution for every need. All those who, like us, are passionate about continuing vocational training and hold the ambition to enable every individual to be the protagonist of his own path are welcome to join us,” concludes Laurence Carlinet.