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EACEA National Policies Platform:Eurydice
Main types of provision


8.Adult education and training

8.4Main types of provision

Last update: 27 November 2023

Provision to raise achievement in basic skills

Compétences clés (Key competencies)

This measure, set up starting 2009 through the Région, as well as the European Union through the European Social Fund, does not require the learner to financially participate. The program is led by both the State and the Région. Given through a Public contract, the provision is granted by two types of institutions: public institutions of adult education (such as the GRETA network) as well as private institutions (non-profit associations, educational companies, etc.). For the year 2010, 45 800 learners did go through this training to develop their basic skills.

Le programme IRILL (IRILL program)

The Insertion, Réinsertion et lutte contre l’Illettrisme program (IRILL - Integration, Reintegration and fight against illiteracy) allows to set literacy-improving activities in motion towards populations under judiciary control, especially people that are incarcerated, without excluding in-jail workers. The program cannot go over 120 hours of monthly training and overall length cannot be over 1 440 hours (12 months). These actions to fight illiteracy are set in motion with the help of the schooling block of the institution (under oversight of the National Education) and they allow trainees to take the Certification de Formation Générale (CFG - General Training Certificate).

Provision to achieve a recognised qualification during adulthood

Les Titres Professionnels (Professionnal titles)

These diplomas, recognized by the State, employers and professional branches, can be obtained through training courses or by validating experience and non-formal learning. The diplomas (as of June 1st, 2015, there are 264 titles registered in the validation of experience), provided by a public training institution (AFPA, etc.) or a recognized private training institution. The jury is only composed with professionals from the field of the aimed craft (at least 2 professionals).

Professional Titles aim at any individual that left the school system, already in its working life, whether or not (s)he is in employment. More specifically, Professional Titles are relevant for: individuals that left the system and that wish to acquire a qualification in a specific field (and particularly in the case of a Vocational Contract), people who have more than 3 years of professional experience and wishing to “convert” this experience in order to get a social promotion through a recognized qualification, and finally people that are facing unemployment and/or wishing to retrain.  This training is financed by the State and the Régions. During 2013, 106 800 learners got through the examination process for the Professional Title, among which a little more than 86 500 passed.

Higher Education Diplomas

In France, all Higher Education national diplomas (as well as post-secondary non tertiary ones, such as the Diplôme d’Accès aux Études Universitaires - DEAU) that are mainly obtained through initial training can also be obtained with Continuous Vocational Training and/or validation of experience. However, Diplômes Universitaires (DU - University Diplomas) also exist and are mostly only available to adult education. These diplomas aren’t subject to ministry validation. They are specific to each university (or to a group of universities in the case of the Inter University Diploma) and are specifically meant to respond to training needs that aren’t filled with national diplomas.

Provision targeting the transition on the labour market

In France, the training of unemployed people is mainly directed by the Pôle Emploi (the French governmental agency that registers unemployed people, and helps them find a job), which directs individuals looking for a job on trainings and financially helps if necessary with programs such as the ones that are detailed below. Training programs are given by the most important training institutions that are listed in section 8.3 (GRETA, AFPA, CNED, etc.). However, these institutions have a primary purpose of general continuous training, the unemployed being part of it. There is no training institution that specifically targets unemployed people.

Unemployed individuals keep their unemployment benefits during their training. Specific allocations are also available for unemployed people in training. At the end of their pension rights, under conditions, they also may benefit a specific training allowance. If the trainee is in an internship that is recognized by the State or the Région, (s)he can also get paid. However, the training cannot exceed 3 years. Finally, unemployed people have a certain number of obligations they have to fulfil in order to keep their unemployment benefits. One of the reasons they may lose these benefits if they refused to take part in a training program.

Contrat de Professionnalisation (Vocational Contract)

The Vocational Contract is a work-linked training contract that allows the student to acquire theoretical knowledge and a craftsmanship in a company. Targeted populations are between 16 and 25, but it is also relevant for the individuals that are over 26 and unemployed and the people who benefit specific allowances (social minima, disability allowance, etc.). These contracts cannot be done in Public institutions. The contract can be either short-term or on a undetermined period of time.

Contrat de Sécurisation Professionnelle (Employment Securing Contract)

This contract targets employed people that are facing an economic lay-off, in order to secure a quick reemployment and/or a retraining. The targeted population, if physically capable to be employed, may as well benefit, as long as they were at least one year in the company they were laid-off from, a specific allowance that amounts roughly to 80 % of their reference salary. The contract is 12 months long. The course starts with a skill and knowledge assessment phase, where the individual sets a new professional project plan. Thereafter, (s)he is supported through the whole training, and can benefit from experience validation process and/or training courses.

Action de Formation Conventionnée (Contracted Training Plan)

The contracted training plan is set up by the Pôle Emploi if the agency counsellor considers that training would fasten the reemployment of a job seeker. The plan represents an opportunity to bring knowledge and skills of job seekers to the level that is required by the labour market: in terms of expertise (technics, professional driving licenses, foreign languages, etc.) as well as diplomas, especially in certain fields (home help, children care, etc.). If done collectively, the training plan will happen in a training centre. It responds to a need of employment and qualification that is acknowledged in local firms, and is usually followed by a job offer for the seeker. If done individually, the training plan can also be achieved through a validation of experience (non-formal and informal learning), that will ease the success of the training plan.

Action de Formation Préalable au Recrutement (Pre-recruitment Training Plan)

In the case of certain job offers (mainly short term contracts, 6 to 12 months), the candidate can ask to recieve a training that will fill the gap between his (her) skills and the ones that the job requires. This training plan cannot exceed 400 hours and may be done full time or part time. This training plan can be set up for a pre-qualifying training process before a Vocational Contract. During the training, the trainee is paid with specific allowances for reemployment.

Provision of liberal (popular) education

In France, popular education is mainly provided by non-profit associations. These associations, sometimes gathered as national federations (such as the Ligue de l’enseignement), may be subsidized or even certified by a ministry if it acknowledges that the non-profit fulfills a list of criteria, such as the general interest objective, the non-profit goal, openness to everyone one without discriminations, quality of provided services, etc. As of January 1st, 2015, 11 national federations of popular education associations did sign the Objectives Charter of Popular Education with the Department of Culture and Communication.

This charter, written and first signed in 1999, sets common goals to these federations. It also sets the framework of the federations and their partners. Each federation has thus its own objectives multi-year agreement in terms of popular education, set by the Department of Culture and Communications, following 5 domains of intervention:

  • Coordination, qualification and valuing networks;
  • Presence on the territorial grid;
  • Access to culture;
  • Developing and qualifying amateur projects and usages;
  • Lifelong education.

Each federation has its own objectives contract. The last multi-year contract period was 2012-2014.

Other types of publicly subsidised provision for adult learners

A lot of other non-profit associations also exist to train populations that are distant from education, and especially adults. Some of these associations are also subsidized or certified by the Department of National Education, Higher Education and Research. These associations may focus on a specific thematic, or alternatively, may target specific needs populations (disabled individuals, prisoners, etc.). If these associations are certified, the agreement is valid for 5 years and renewable.

Numerous Popular Universities (around 60) exist as well in France, federated by the Association des Universités Populaires de France (AUPF - France Popular Universities Association), that set up lectures to convey knowledge to everyone. Finally, some public Universities also organize lectures that are specifically set up for an adult population (Université Permanente).