France - The ‘apprenticeship’ system

The Ministry of Education offers approximately 500 vocational qualifications at EQF Levels 3 and 4.These qualifications, known as vocational diplomas, are defined by national standards that describe the knowledge, skills and competences that must be acquired, and the certificative assessment. One way to complete those qualifications is through the national apprentissage system which combines work-based and centre-based training. The apprentices are employees who have an employment contract and receive a salary.

Work-based training is a central feature of this programme and the arrangements are set out clearly before the apprentice starts. This requires the establishment of:

  • the apprentice’s contract which is signed by the apprentice (or legal representative) and employer. This includes:
    • compulsory information relating to the duration and dates of the contract, the vocational qualification being studied, the salary, the work schedule, the address of the training centre, and the role of each of the partners;
    • agreement that the employer’s training will relate to the vocational qualification, the apprentice will be allowed to complete additional training in a training centre and take the exams, and receive a salary;
    • agreement that the apprentice will respect the regulations at work, work for the employer, follow courses provided by the training centre, and take the exams.

The training centre designs the objectives of the training, provides general and technical training and communicates with the apprentice’s supervisor or instructor in the company.

The practical aspects of training - delivered in the companies and the training centres - are organised jointly and involve dialogue between all the partners: the regional education authorities, inspectors, teachers, companies and the chambers. These discussions lead to the production of a number of documents which strengthen the work-based learning programme e.g.:

  • agreement documents which enable employers and the training centres to be clear about how training is organised and delivered in order to meet the objectives of the programme and qualification. They include precise tasks that should be completed by apprentices alongside the expected learning outcomes – these are linked to the national standards for each vocational diploma;
  • information documents which encourage the apprentice to record their observations and the outcomes of discussions with staff at the training centre and the company supervisor or instructor;
  • assessment and follow-up documents where progress can be recorded and monitored.

Examples from the French system include:

This initial VET case study focuses on company-based aspects of training.

This case study demonstrates the following Building Block:




This case study shows the following EQAVET indicators are being met:

This case study shows the following EQAVET indicative descriptors (at system and provider levels) are being met:

For more information on this case study, click here.

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