AFEST: issues and recognition in France (Note 1)
[Translation French - English : EPALE France
Author : Frank Savann]
This a series of three articles discussing AFEST (Action for Workplace Learning). The first focuses on the issues, particularly in companies, and their legal recognition specifically in France. The second will focus on the promotion of AFEST, which is a key step for its adoption by and within companies. The third will focus on the financing of this new training method.
Part 1: Issues and recognition of workplace learning
"We were already that doing before …" the boss of a small business told me yesterday evening, when I was asking her about workplace learning (AFEST). Like her, many professionals integrate AFEST into training on the job.
The principle itself of the on-the-job training is that in many organisations, it becomes a casual, ad hoc way of passing on know-how. What takes bosses down this track is that on-the-job training is fast, fairly effective and, above all, involves no administrative hassle.
From this point of view, it may be felt that on-the-job learning develops naturally and inevitably in any growing organisation. You could even say that it has always existed. But now they're going to have to deal with a formal workplace learning system, for which its legal recognition resides in its legal basis and regulatory framework.
Everything has been laid down in stages. Under the auspices of DGEFP in 2014, several trials were officially organised from the end of 2015 until June 2018, led by Copanef, FPSPP and CNEFOP. During this national experimen, AFEST worked within fifty companies and trained seventy people. As shown in the summary report of July 2018*, the aim of the experiment ‘was to lay the foundations by standardising the approach and the conditions of this training method to devise rules so as to be recognised as genuine training …’
Despite a tightly controlled vocational training system in legal terms, the Act of 5 September 2018 laid the foundations of the training system, in that it was defined as an ‘educational route to achieve a vocational goal which may be wholly or partly carried out at a distance. It may also be carried out in the workplace’.
The Decree of 28 December 2018, very much inspired by what has been described as AFEST's constituent acts in the feedback from its experiments, listed the criteria of the conditions of its legal recognition:
analysing the activity of the work so as to, where appropriate, adapt it for educational purposes;the prior designation of a trainer able to act as a teacher;establishing reflexive phases;specific assessments of the results of the training, which punctuate or terminate the action.
The issues of legal recognition
The legal recognition of AFEST implies different issues, depending on the size of the business: fewer, or more than, fifty employees.
In this way, the new company contribution commits all companies with eleven or more employees to contribute financially to the development of skills in companies with fewer than fifty staff.
Companies with fewer than fifty employees are at the heart of all the attention. In fact, those are the companies where the least training is carried out. In 2014, in firms with ten to 49 employees, the number of employees having benefited from training is from 15.6% to 25.9%. In businesses with 50 and more staff, from 41.1% to 55.9%** of their employees had the advantage of training.
To make on-the-job training practices, not eligible for public or shared financing, move toward workplace training as officially recognised by the texts would contribute to correcting the serious inequalities of access to training.
In businesses with fifty and more employees, the recognition of informal or on-the-job training methods is both a social and a financial issue, in the light of the obligation to train 100% of employees over a period of six years. If this employer responsibility is not adopted in the context of the inventory of professional management*** - the next deadline to meet this obligation is 7 March 2020 - businesses will be liable for a financial penalty of 3,000 to 3,900 euros per employee.
The development of skills in the context of AFEST therefore constitutes a major economic, social and financial issue in all companies, particularly those with fewer than fifty employees, who are just as much affected by the digital transformation of trades as larger firms, but who invest less in training.
Afest being effective, it's now about promoting it. Not because AFEST is 'new' or because it is one of the OPCO obectives, but because everyone will gain from an ‘effective training method in terms of the educational process and the development of skills’*: companies (managers and HR) and their employees, financiers, training providers and trainers.
Frank SAVANN is a Training, Skills and FEST (workplace learning) consultant. He is also an EPALE France thematic coordinator and a member of AEFA's AFEST Working Group.
** Jaune budgétaire 2019
*** Article L6323-13 du Code du Travail (modifié par la loi du 5 septembre 2018) : « Dans les entreprises d’au moins cinquante salariés, lorsque le salarié n’a pas bénéficié, durant les six ans précédant l’entretien mentionné au II de l’article L. 6315-1, des entretiens prévus au même article L. 6315-1 et d’au moins une formation autre que celle mentionnée à l’article L. 6321-2, un abondement est inscrit à son compte dans des conditions définies par décret en Conseil d’Etat et l’entreprise verse, dans le cadre de ses contributions au titre de la formation professionnelle, une somme dont le montant, fixé par décret en Conseil d’Etat… »