The Personal Training Account, monetised at last
· The announcement of Muriel Pénicaud, Minister of Labour, on Measures 1 and 2
Measure 1: All employees will have their personal training account (PTA) credited with 500€ per year to make a free choice of their training courses
Measure 2: For unqualified employees, 800€ per year, capped at 8,000€ will enable them to change their professional category
In the ANI (Interprofessional National Agreement) of 22 February, the social partners wished to offer more PTA rights to employees by changing the system of capitalisation of hours: 35 hours per year, instead of the current 24 hours for all employees, whether full-time or part-time, up to a ceiling of 400 hours (instead of today's 150 hours). For employees who have not reached the level of training certified by a Level V diploma (CAP [Certificate of Professional Competence], BEP, [Vocational Studies Certificate]), the ANI proposes to increase PTA rights to 55 hours per year, up to a ceiling of 550 hours.
Muriel Pénicaud has welcomed this initiative, the result of the social dialogue, to extend PTA rights. However, she has maintained her intention, barely hidden in the guidance document submitted on 15 November 2017 to the social partners: what should the PTA's new unit of measurement be? She has chosen to put it into practice by monetising the PTA.
On 5 March, the Minister of Labour announced 500€ per year for qualified employees and 800€ per year for unskilled workers. If we consider the new 35-hour capitalisation rule proposed by the social partners (we cannot ignore the ANI), an employee's hour of training under the PTA would be at a little over 14€ per hour; but over ten years this rate drops to 12.5€ per hour.
Consequences for the training organisations
In 2017, the qualifications most often requested* through the PTA were, in order, TOEIC, Bulats, CléA (Certificate of Knowledge and Professional Skills), PCIE (European Computer Skills Passport), TOSA, CACES (Transport and Logistics Training), preparation courses for SPI (Union of Independent Audiovisual and Cinema Producers), support towards RPL and the State Caregiver Diploma.
Aline, head of a training organisation specialising in languages, explained that: "With more than 90% of our turnover coming from financing PTAs, our situation will deteriorate. Each reform imposes new constraints". She added: "If we have to adapt, we'll adapt. We'll look for qualifications which will allow us to access PTA funding. But in reality, we are already delivering quality without issuing certificates, and I assure you that the publics that we train can confirm this when they go back to their workstations."
With regard to the profile of its trainees, only 1% of unqualified employees have, independently and on their own initiative, taken up their rights to PTA. If the other unqualified trainees that she has accepted were able to use their PTA rights, it was thanks to the administrative and financial support of their employers … in the context of the training plan.
Points to watch and trains of thought
Stakes for the training organisations
Those training organisations operating on the fringe could therefore feel the strain of the PTA's monetisation. Aline explained that a competitive organisation, displaying recognised qualifications, uses methods that she does not share, even if she 'picks up' trainees. In fact, to prepare for TOEIC, inter-business trainees would be sitting in front of a screen wearing headphones and following an e-learning solution for a whole day ... with the support of a trainer, just to respect the principle of pedagogical assistance (in accordance with the rules of eligibility of open and distance learning courses).
· If the computerisation of training courses is taking an increasing share of the market, it must be intelligently thought through. It cannot be summed up as an option of purely economic interest within the limits of the regulatory framework.
o Thinking digital for a training organisation also, and necessarily, means developing its practices, in particular by the combination of training methods. Blended learning is an interesting route to explore, in order to balance out the different constraints (a combination of virtual classroom, classroom, video, forum, assessment, etc). Aurélie, a teaching and quality manager in the training organisation of a national network, is supported in the computerisation of one of its pioneering blended learning courses: "We are going to proceed step by step. For the moment, we do not depend on an LMS to improve our focus on the engineering of training courses and supporting learners with our trainers".
· After having gone through Data-Dock, the training organisations (over 30,000 are registered in Data-Dock and 53,000 are involved in the referencing procedure**) must think about moving towards certification, if they want to continue to benefit from public financing, and to create customer satisfaction. Quality certification and training quality are not necessarily and fundamentally linked.
o A quality certification is not an off-the-shelf product that can be selected to comply with regulatory constraints (cf. Decree of 30/06/2015). Its choice must above all be registered in a business strategy with an organisation which is permanently seeking customer satisfaction (prescriber or trainee). Lionel, leader of a training organisation in the North, told me: "Our organisation has developed rapidly. We have a Data-Dock reference, and now we wish to go on to a new step: certification. But which one do we choose, from the fifty on the CNEFOP (National Council for Employment, Training and Vocational Guidance) list? " It will go forward eventually in two ways: through an inventory which will show the qualification best suited to his organisation, and through the establishment of his record of certification.
o The training organisations being recommended on Data-Dock, or being certified, must enhance this recognition by making themselves visible as widely as possible, particularly in the direction of the public to which the reforms are addressed. The OPCA (Authorised Joint Collection Bodies) site displays a list of the training organisations recommended on Data-Dock.
Stakes for businesses
Re-thinking the GPEC (Employment and Skills Management Planning) Agreement or the PTA policy
· In businesses with 300 or more employees, GPEC negotiations have to understand the definition of the criteria and the methods of the employer's contribution to the PTA. Yet today, we are not aware of real or ambitious PTA policies, as could be observed with the DIF (Individual's Right to Training) where there was no legal obligation. But the coming disappearance of the period of professionalisation should force companies to think again about the place they are going to have to grant to the notion of a 'joint project'.
This consideration could be carried out in every business especially, if this is not already being done, those equipped with internal training centres or their own universities.
o While it is investing in new projects, the company is incidentally also investing in the skills of its staff. But the development of skills is not laid down in the same way as the training courses. For employees, it also requires the means to be put in place in the working situation, organised by the supervisory staff (ability) and a sense of the tasks to be carried out (willingness). The company must work on the attractiveness of its training courses by innovations in various incentive measures (blended learning, A-fest, practice analysis, etc).
o Another new challenge for Human Resources directors and training and skills managers is to construct a PTA strategy by developing communications adapted to their HR and training policies to support its deployment (a guide to PTA for use by managers, the correct use of performance reviews, offering pre-selected training courses, implementation during working hours, the financial contribution, etc)
Rethinking the performance review
· As a few companies who are lagging behind in the deployment of performance reviews have told me: "this will disappear with the next Act on training". However, their importance is clearly reaffirmed in the ANI of 22 February. Remember that above and beyond the obligation of methods of managing the performance review, the need to show results means employers must draw up a recapitulative inventory every six years. The next is due in less than two years. The performance review is a legal obligation resulting from the Law of 2014, entered into the Labour Code for all businesses. Those with more than 50 employees are subject to financial sanctions on the account of any employees who did not have performance reviews (L6323-13).
o Businesses which did not carry out performance reviews, or which would be late in doing so, must act as quickly as possible so as to conform to their legal obligations. Routes exist for SMES, which have no HR services, in particular by the externalisation of their performance reviews.
· The logic of co-construction employer/employee, which may seem obvious, still has to be defined in many organisations. The performance review is, however, an excellent tool to develop this co-construction. But from the fact of a well-established annual review, culturally rooted within the organisations, it is difficult to arrive at the place which it has finally been granted by the legal route. And as in most companies it is handled by overloaded managers, or those who were trained too quickly, we can easily understand their difficulty in positioning themselves as HR tools which are also managerial in this co-construction.
o The right balance must therefore be found between the annual review (where it exists) and the performance review. It is time, indeed necessary, to rethink the place of the performance review as the yardstick of a renovated PTA.
Frank SAVANN is an EPALE France thematic expert.
** Data-dock.fr: platform from which training organisations can justify their conformity (description of their process, inputs of evidence) to the Quality Decree of 30/06/2015 through the 21 indicators defined by the OPCAs.