Since 1971, adult training has been a right recognised by French law (law n°71-575 of 16 July 1971). Its objective is to develop the professional integration or reintegration of adults, to maintain them in employment, to encourage the development of their skills, to enable workers to adapt to changing techniques and working conditions, to promote their social advancement through access to the various levels of culture and professional qualification and their contribution to cultural, economic and social development.
The responsibility for adult education is shared by all the economic and social partners involved (each of which can act independently). In this respect, the state does not have the same predominant position as it has in initial training.
Continuing training is the direct and complementary responsibility of several partners (see 8.1), in particular
- the State, the regions and the social partners define the framework and supply of continuing training: the criteria and arrangements giving access to continuing training are generally based on confirmation by the public authorities of interprofessional agreements signed by the social partners of different sectors of activity;
- The State, the regions and the social partners (via the skills operators) and companies manage the financing of continuing training (see section 3.3);
- the State, the regions, companies and public or private training bodies are responsible for the provision of training as such.
As far as learners are concerned, continuing training can be undertaken by all adults over 18 years of age; admission procedures depend on the status of each learner: employees, jobseekers or people with special needs.
According to Eurostat (Labour force survey data), the participation rate of 25-64 year olds in continuing education in France in 2019 was 19.5% (Eurostat, indicator [trng_lfs_01]).
The latest major development in the field of vocational training dates back to the law n°2018-771 of 5 September 2018 for the freedom to choose one's professional future. In the area of adult training, this law reformed the Personal Training Account (CPF), which lists the rights acquired by employees throughout their working lives and until they retire, as well as the training from which they can benefit. The law also created France Compétences, which is responsible for organising, leading and regulating the vocational training sector.
Finally, since 2002, a system has existed to accredit and validate non-formal and informal learning: the Validation of Acquired Experience (V.A.E. - see section 8.5).