EPALE expert André Chauvet talks to EPALE about the challenges of professional transitions in 2021!
You are a consultant in professional reconversion and have developed expertise in this issue. What is your background?
André Chauvet: I started as a pshychological guidance counsellor in information and guidance centres, mission locale youth centres and skills assessment centres. I then left the civil service to set up my own consultancy firm with three main focuses:
- The professionalisation of people working in vocational transitions and guidance;
- Support for public structures of the State and the regions in the construction of systems for professional development and guidance, validation of prior learning, skills assessments;
- Research and innovation activities in the field of professional development.
These fields correspond to my current areas of expertise and this is why I was asked to enrich the EPALE platform on the theme of professional transitions.
Have the issues surrounding career transitions changed much in recent years, particularly since the start of the pandemic?
André Chauvet: Yes, they have changed gradually: people do not carry out the same activity all their lives, whether this is voluntary or involuntary. When there is a desire for development, training can facilitate change. Since the arrival of the formalised skills assessment in 1991, the approaches in this area have evolved. They have been amplified by technological change, notably the digital and service economy.
These developments will transform jobs, require new skills, sometimes create new competition with the arrival of new services, and sometimes accelerate the disappearance of certain activities that can potentially be replaced by artificial intelligence. The question of professional transitions is at the heart of individual and collective reflection: it is on everyone’s minds.
With the Covid pandemic, one can imagine the upheaval. New measures have been created, “collective transitions”, which aim to avoid dismissals by allowing people to train and move to what are known as promising sectors.
Is this an acceleration or a new direction?
André Chauvet: Today we talk about “professional reconversion” whereas before it was about “professional transitions”. This corresponds to a reality: today people change jobs because certain activities are replaceable and sometimes doomed to disappear. On the other hand, there are activities that are neither replaceable nor relocatable: personal care, health, sectors under great pressure. There is uncertainty surrounding the hospitality professions, a sector which is usually in tension but which is questioning its prospects with the Covid pandemic. There are sectors like this for which we are not necessarily able to anticipate developments. For example, the press sector: who can predict the role of the written press in five years' time?
Does this evolution require new skills to accompany professional transition/reconversion?
André Chauvet: More than ever, it requires constant surveillance of systems, uses and professions. Furthermore, people no longer inform themselves and make decisions in the same way and no longer approach professionals with the same questions. This must be taken into account when evaluating our professions. EPALE can act as an echo chamber for these developments in raising awareness among practitioners.
Are there any specificities at the European level in the field of professional transition?
André Chauvet: There are training issues that are European, but the questions of transitions are more difficult to identify: France thus has specific issues in terms of systems, history and funding. There are texts at the European level on guidance and lifelong learning. I was also asked by EPALE to try to formalise a more European approach. This year I intend to look closely at how other European countries have responded to the COVID crisis.
Discussions between internal state practices and a more cross-cutting approach could inspire practitioners in other European countries. It is up to us to create inspiring collectives. The theme is unique in that it is cross-cutting: it involves inclusion, skills development, training, territories, etc.
What areas would you like to explore further at EPALE?
André Chauvet: It is important for me to highlight the issues of inclusion and equal access. I work on the so-called invisible public, the non-use of rights. I will be publishing a blog post on how to take these invisible audiences into account and the initiatives that have been put in place. A European approach is necessary, because the question of the most remote and vulnerable groups, those most difficult to reach by European measures, concerns all member states. Social mobility is an area of work that we all share at EPALE.
Inclusion is also one of the focuses of the new Erasmus + programme. How can these vulnerable groups be more involved in European programmes?
André Chauvet: This is true, even if we did not wait for the new Erasmus + focuses. This priority has also been amplified by the COVID crisis.
One way of achieving this goal is to ensure that the public are more involved in the systems in which we intervene, to get away from an overly vertical logic, i.e. to give them the right to speak and the power to act. I am very sensitive to this.
The European dynamic on this subject is very interesting because there are many experiences in other European countries based on what is known as empowerment. I work with Portugal, where there are great examples of working with audiences in neighbourhoods and young people in rural areas, with more cooperative support practices. These cooperative actions constitute a fairly powerful movement in Europe that EPALE can support.
- Blog 1 “Professional retraining in employment growth sectors: under what conditions?”: https://epale.ec.europa.eu/fr/node/300777
- Blog 2 “Mentoring in the spotlight!”: https://epale.ec.europa.eu/fr/blog/le-mentorat-la-une
- Blog 3 “EPALE France conference / Cooperating and innovating at the local level: How and under what conditions?”: https://epale.ec.europa.eu/fr/blog/rencontre-thematique-epale-cooperer-et-innover-au-niveau-des-territoires-comment-et-quelles-0