international employment law firm alliance L&E Global

France: Retraining – For the Better and For the Future

Author: Franck Morel

In 2021, nearly one in two working people began or considered a professional retraining. However, our country remains one of the OECD countries where employees stay with the same company the longest (11 years on average). Although the desire for professional retraining is clearly expressed among many French people, their commitment to this process is not self-evident. How to resolve this French paradox?

Over the next few years, career changes will only increase and the need for professional retraining of workers will increase. In addition, the economic impact of the health crisis has already revealed the urgency of facilitating these transitions, otherwise both workers and the economy will suffer. Therefore, how to design employment and training policies where the evolution of the labour market will no longer be considered as a risk but as so many opportunities to be seized?

The Montaigne Institute, aware that France’s ability to resist within the global economy depends on its ability to meet changing skills needs, has formulated 16 proposals to meet the growing needs in terms of professional retraining.

The implementation of the latter would make it possible to quadruple the number of vocational retraining courses in order to reach, at constant means, 100,000 training courses per year.

  • A challenge for a changing economy

The health crisis has contributed to accelerating trends and changes already underway since the end of the 20th century. Rapid, profound and radical transformations of the labour market are thus looming in the years to come. These challenges and opportunities can only be beneficial to France if public authorities, workers and companies have the means at their disposal to deal with them. In this sense, grasping the challenge of professional retraining is a national priority in terms of public employment and training policies.

Vocational retraining concerns the entire active population, including the self-employed and job seekers, and it takes on a variety of situations, being both voluntary and voluntary.

  • Betting on a forward-looking strategy

 This note seeks to rethink the existing system without increasing the budgets allocated to vocational training. Its ambition is to simplify an operation often perceived as too complex and then reallocate resources to where they will be most needed. Furthermore, the investment in training cannot be considered as a cost. Rather, it should be seen as an investment, both for public authorities and for businesses, looking to the future.

Better coordination between public authorities, local levels and companies will therefore make it possible to initiate a proactive policy of professional retraining.

  • Rethinking professional training around support commensurate with individual projects

The observation shared by many actors is that there are still too many obstacles to professional retraining. In addition to the lack of precise information, administrative red tape handicaps workers who are considering retraining. However, most of the tools are already in place. What is missing today is their fitting into a coherent whole capable of contributing to the mobility of actors.

Among the existing tools, the Personal Training Account (CPF) offers a first solid base on which to build professional retraining projects. Its use, however, needs to be clearly oriented much more towards training linked to the needs of the economy and in favor of the less qualified towards individualized support on a case-by-case basis and supervised by a Professional Development Advisor (CEP) – a item that already exists without however being used at its fair value. In addition, the emergence of a culture of professional mobility must also take place in the civil service in order to allow its modernization. The development of a real policy of professional retraining will therefore allow for better fluidity of the actors, whatever their sector of activity.

  • Preparing France for professional retraining

The ambition of this note is to develop the existing framework. The strategies adopted so far by the public authorities have been able to manage changes in the labour market. However, it is imperative to go further to remove the obstacles that continue to hinder professional mobility and which could prove detrimental to the proper functioning of the economy. Thinking about the conditions of the mobility of workers will contribute to the emergence of a real culture of professional development capable of adapting to changes.

  • Encourage and secure commitment to a professional retraining process

Proposal No. 1: Initiate work to relax the regulations relating to the composition of juries within the framework of the system for the validation of acquired experience (VAE) and their renewal to facilitate their implementation and management, strengthen the link to business needs.

Proposal n°2: Allow a collective agreement to adapt the obligations in terms of professional interviews (frequency, grouping of interviews, content, etc.) by providing for a contribution to the CPF for employees, which can be used for specific needs. In return, the penalties due for non-compliance with previous obligations would be waived in the event of the signing of such an agreement before December 31, 2022.

Proposal n°3: Promote the CEP, following the example of the organized mobilization, via a national communication campaign, to promote the CPF, by promoting digital access to the CEP in the My Training Account platform.

Proposal n°4: Initiate the experiment requested by the social partners linking the purchase of certain training courses outside the National Directory of Professional Certifications (RNCP) via the CPF to the validation of the CEP.

Proposal no. 5: Push for analysis of professional mobility in order to promote the identification of key transversal and transferable skills on which recruiters rely.

  • Refocus tools on people rather than statuses

Proposal no. 6: Reorient the use of the CPF towards qualifying training, for which professional outlets are clearly identified.

Proposal No. 7: Set up specific aid that can be mobilized by the CEPs for training that cannot be covered by the CPF but that participates in a validated professional mobility project (driving license, language learning, creation or takeover of companies).

Proposal no. 8: Redefine the individual amount of annual credits for the CPF according to the level of training of workers in order to devote a larger share of them to the least qualified.

Proposal no. 9: Promote a second-chance system for the least qualified via an additional contribution paid in the absence of diploma or certification training or a change of job in the last ten years.

Proposal No. 10: Allow any holder of a CPF to pay, on a voluntary basis, part of their rights to a fund dedicated to the support and professional retraining of the least qualified.

Proposal No. 11: Simplify the CPF civil service by applying the convertibility of civil servants’ hours into euros to allow greater fluidity in career paths in return for training listed in a professional retraining course.

Proposal n°12: Aim to generalize the use of a digitalized skills passport integrating the promotion of professional practices for all workers and promoting an approach by skills blocks.

  • Voluntarily support and promote the public policy of professional retraining

Proposal No. 13: Overhaul the governance of professional retraining by organizing, via a national body, the Forward Planning Management of Employment and Skills (GPEC) for the Nation, and local variations in the form of State-Region committees aimed at building with local partners, measures that can be mobilized in employment areas; a retraining prospective observatory would provide data for this set.

Proposal n°14: Strengthen the mechanisms for professional retraining by securing career paths within a chapô system according to three needs: need of the company in which jobs are threatened, need for recruitment, need for the employee.

Proposal No. 15: Allow tax depreciation of long training courses having an impact on employment, the list of which would be determined with training professionals and sectors of activity, branch by branch.

Proposal no. 16: Make development and skills commitments (EDEC) more effective based on a review of the past ten years. The renovated EDECs would make it possible to raise specific means for professional retraining and in particular to support, with the EPCIs, the raising of specific means at the level of employment areas.


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