The number of young apprentices reached 368,800 in 2019, an increase of 16%. A record figure for this training route which, however, still suffers from many prejudices. The various reforms and measures put in place by the Government in the current context have, however, made it possible to accelerate the development of apprenticeship. Focus on this course – combining general courses and practical work in a company – which is attracting more and more young people.
The old face of learning
Historically, apprenticeship was dedicated only to manual trades and intended for young people with educational difficulties; often seen as a sign of failure. This very French trend results from the opposition between the business world and that of the school which does not date from yesterday. In the 1970s and in a logic inherited from Jules Ferry, it was considered that the school of the republic should only train citizens endowed with a critical sense, and not workers, made available to the economic sphere. A contradictory perception between young citizens, critically armed, and their ability to exercise it in the business space, an integral part of their life. This should also deeply question the education system, rather than reject the principle. A contempt which unfortunately still exists because the company is still badly perceived in France, with the idea that it would exploit individuals in a capitalist world that has become “neoliberal”. AT40 years apart; two influential works echo this thesis: The capitalist school in France (Baudelot and Establet in 1971) and The new capitalist school (in 2011, Laval, Vergne,…). The worst form of this enslavement being the concept training company illustrated by the “internship” and “work-study”! Horrors …
But let us not forget that the first apprenticeship training touches a “noble profession”: medicine, with practice in the hospital. The companies also issued fairly legitimate criticisms of the great engineering and business schools. Even if these prestigious establishments formed “heads”, the young graduates did not have experience in the field. This phenomenon has spread in society and schools (HEC, Polytech, etc.) have opened apprenticeship training. A real revolution!
A popularized device, despite a difficult financial context
Over time, the image of apprenticeship has improved, in particular by the law “For the freedom to choose one’s professional future” initiated in 2018. This reform has thus made education more accessible and more attractive until then. less popular and has enabled CFAs to be linked to CFCs (Continuing Education Center) creating a lifelong training continuum. This novelty offers the opportunity to place in the same space young people in initial training, young apprentices and people in continuing training for the older ones. Purpose ? Provide a framework for lifelong continuous training. A very encouraging step forward!
However, the future of learning is gradually darkening. Through the reform, the financing of apprenticeship contracts has been supported since 2018 by professional organizations with a financial distribution managed by the France Compétences agency. In September, multiple media affirmed that from 2022, the section of credits made available by this agency would be exhausted. The concern was palpable and led Jean Castex and Elisabeth Borne to announce on November 24 that rates would not drop at the start of the 2021 school year.
On December 14, in front of an audience of journalists specializing in social information, the Minister of Labor also reaffirmed the need for a return to financial equilibrium for France Compétences “by 2022”. A victim of its own success, the national agency lacks funds that neither the State nor the branches can provide more … Wait and see.
Which calls out and causes concern for the following years where nothing is announced… Is this lack of money linked to the explosion of learning requiring more resources? In the economic context aggravated by the Covid19 crisis that companies are experiencing with learning budgets that are therefore decreasing, making it impossible to finance all contracts? In any case, this fundamental drying up would have dramatic consequences for young people who will experience difficulties in finding an apprenticeship company, but also for CFAs, and companies which would be obliged to contribute to the financing of a tax dedicated to employment contracts. ‘learning.
A second wind for apprenticeship in the agricultural sector
The implementation of unprecedented measures to support the hiring of apprentices as part of the recovery plan is also a factor in the growth of apprenticeship in France. In addition, the covid19 crisis has also revealed a certain recognition of so-called “essential” manual trades, such as nursing assistants or farmers. If these professions were little or badly recognized in recent years, they have been applauded this year every evening at 8 p.m.
And yet, these realizations that push individuals to be in search of meaning are not new. More and more French people are deciding to change their life and to reconvert themselves personally but also professionally around the professions of nature and the living, in continuous training or in apprenticeship, an illustration of what one calls “the urban exodus. “. Unsurprisingly, organic farming is the most popular path for these “retrained” people. Their profile often corresponds to city dwellers, in urban exodus, who have a fairly naive and candid vision of nature, which would symbolize the return to authenticity in life. A trendy and positive trend that illustrates the new challenges of today, around local production, animal welfare and ecological transition.
In France, apprenticeship has long been depreciated and suffered from its negative image. Today, it is on the rise and has become a real lever of success for young people. Boosted by young generations with aspirations and new demands, this education should prepare students for the new professions of tomorrow, particularly in the agricultural world. The latter is transforming and gradually rethinking his working environment to enter with momentum into the digital age.