Since the Social Modernisation Law 2002 - 73, France has had the Répertoire national des qualifications professionnelles (RNCP - National Directory of Professional Qualifications) controlled by France compétences, which is the national public institution responsible for the governance of vocational training and apprenticeship. Law 2018-771 for the freedom to choose one's professional future introduced a new Cadre National des Certifications Professionnelles (CNCP - National Framework of Professional Certifications). This is the new nomenclature to which all ministries and certifying bodies must refer when determining the qualification level of vocational qualifications registered in the RNCP. This new framework, introduced on 1 January 2019, replaces the nomenclature dating from 1969.
Nomenclature of qualifications
According to Article D6113-18 of the French Labour Code, the new national framework for professional certifications defines the level of qualification associated with each professional certification according to criteria for grading the skills required to carry out professional activities.
These criteria make it possible to assess:
- The complexity of the knowledge associated with the exercise of the professional activity;
- The level of know-how, which is assessed in particular according to the complexity and technicality of an activity in a work process;
- The level of responsibility and autonomy within the work organisation.
Article D6113-19 of the Labour Code precisely defines each level of qualification. For example, level 1 of the national framework of professional qualifications corresponds to the mastery of basic knowledge, and level 2 "attests the ability to carry out simple activities and solve common problems using simple rules and tools by mobilising professional know-how in a structured context. The associated professional activity is carried out with a restricted level of autonomy".
National Directory of Professional Certifications (RNCP)
The purpose of the National Register of Professional Certifications is to provide individuals and companies with constantly updated information on diplomas and professional qualifications. It contributes to facilitating access to employment, human resources management and professional mobility. The qualifications recorded in the register are recognised throughout the national territory. It is accessible on the France Compétences website.
In practice, the RNCP enables the descriptions of qualifications to be consulted: activities covered, sector of activity, elements of competence acquired, access arrangements, etc.
An updated quantitative statement of the directory (number of records available online, number of records in the process of validation, statement per certifier, etc.) is regularly made available to users.
Links between the RNCP and lifelong learning policy
Within the RNCP, each qualification is described in terms of learning outcomes/professional purpose and not just in terms of a diploma. Each qualification must therefore be accessible through the validation of learning outcomes, whether formal, non-formal or informal, i.e. through the Validation of Acquired Experience (VAE) system. VAE is one of the pillars of French lifelong learning policy: it is a measure which enables anyone, regardless of age, level of education or status, to have their experience validated in order to obtain a professional qualification. Three years of experience relevant to the content of the qualification concerned are required.
Links between the RNCP and the European Qualifications Framework (EQF)
The new National Qualifications Framework, in addition to modernising the nomenclature, is now aligned with the European Qualifications Framework, in order to improve comparability between the two systems and to promote correspondence with the qualifications of EU countries. Now, like the European nomenclature, the National Qualifications Framework is based on eight levels of qualification.