Unlike most workers, apprentices have to travel from home to at least two sites to carry out their employment contract: the practical (the company employing them) and theory training sites (apprentice training centre or school).
The long-standing apprenticeship entry-level age range (16/18) faces its first mobility obstacle (no car, diversity/lack of public transport, lack of accommodation in most apprentice training centres).
There’s a real unbalance between regional situations, even an insurmountable challenge to becoming an apprentice without family or material support.
Even when overcome at the start of the journey, these reasons are behind a large number of breaches of contract; either because they cause discouragement and fatigue or because the slightest material issue would stop apprentices being able to get to work and therefore respect their contractual duties.
The specificity of certain training courses for all levels as well as company restrictions (building sites etc.) can create a desire or an obligation for mobility on a local, regional, national or international scale (inside and outside the EU).
Obstacles to training development abroad:
In the lower age groups (under 18), apprentices and their families are particularly adverse to any move outside the area in which they live.
For older apprentices, low income becomes a real obstacle to a move be it short or long-term.
Both inside and outside the EU, employers and apprentices’ families are concerned about benefits from the French welfare system namely in terms of training in particularly risky areas.
Lastly, concerning a move abroad, it’s often French apprentices’ language training which stops them considering worthwhile mobility (either in a foreign training centre or foreign company) as learning a (single) foreign language is side-lined in favour of other subjects in theory training.
The current situation in France:
The French Labour Law now allows apprentices to organise mobile training in any country in the European Union (namely articles R. 6223-17 etc. in the Labour Law and the decree dated February 2nd 2009, please see resource links).
However, should apprentices have sufficient language skills to make such a move, the major obstacle comes in the form of payment from their employer.
Unless the original company belongs to a group which exists in the other country, the employer isn’t inclined to pay apprentices during their absence and must therefore come to an agreement with the other company. The employer must also handle the problematic complexity of applying the legal, fiscal and social demands related to such a move.
As for non-EU mobility, the issue of benefits from the French welfare system have to be assessed on a case-by-case and country-by-country basis.
Essentially, and namely in training during higher education, training courses now demand these such short or long-term placements and both employers and training centres have to best organise a mobility period at the same time as protecting parties involved in the apprenticeship contract.
International mobility development plans
Better education in one or more foreign languages for career paths would provide useful and consistent preparation for a year-long placement during apprenticeship training.
However, employers and training centres have to work together to organise the schedule of a year-long placement which would automatically reduce theory and practice training in France. They must also plan its management, namely financial, in a secure legal framework.
Giving extra points in the final exam for foreign language training could also encourage apprentices to choose this path themselves.
Improving social and insurance guarantees to benefit apprentices and those involved in the contract should include the implementation of a flexible system of organising cash flows related to this sort of apprentice contract.
Last but not least, both in France and other European countries, this sort of programme only concerns a small minority of apprentices; some professional sectors have major precedence in European mobility and can’t involve more than 3% of their apprentices in this sort of mobility. Interestingly, this figure is that of all French employees’ European mobility.
Consultancy and Corporate Management Training Firm