The assumption is that if adults in France take a sandwich course, they have left the “traditional” education system.
In this regard, France stands out for two forms of contract (as in an employment contract) which appear similar but whose organisation and end result are very different: the professional training contract and the apprenticeship contract.
In principle, both employment contracts are designed for 16-25 year olds and relate to two types of training: in-service training for the former, pre-service training for the latter.
They can both be finalised as part of a permanent or fixed-term contract and both have exemptions which can exceed the age limit for eligibility. However, their respective and legally defined goals are what make the difference between the two.
Professional training contracts may result in a recognised qualification but should be seen as a means to gain or regain employment (article L. 6325-1 of the French labour law). 66% of them remain in employment after their contract, three quarters of who stay in the same company. Employers of this type of employee provide training and a real “job” during the sandwich course.
Apprenticeship contracts have the main goal of getting a diploma or professional qualification (article L. 6211-1 of the French labour law); it’s a happy coincidence and not an intrinsic goal that this type of sandwich course (theory in school, practice in company) provides better access to employment statistically (compared to traditional school pathways). 62% of apprentices have a stable job in the six months following the end of their course.
Since trainees can begin their apprenticeships when studying for the French equivalent of NVQs, this form of contract should be seen as encouraging the notion of a training pathway so the apprentice can go onto study for the French equivalent of a university degree.
Although, up to now, apprentices studying for higher education diplomas account for almost 40% of this unique employee category, apprenticeship is a method particularly well suited to pre-service training.
This form of training goes beyond purely gaining access to employment and enables trainees to gain the theory training they need to make the most of their personal and social position as well as the business world.
Albert Parisot, Employment lawyer
Consultancy and corporate management training firm