Mobility in vocational education and training (VET) has been central in France since the Middle Ages when the Compagnons du devoir organised youth mobility among French and European craftsmen.

Nowadays, several measures are being taken to continue to promote the mobility of learners enrolled in alternance training and, in particular, long-term mobility for apprentices. France has also a long tradition of apprenticeship, dating back to the 19th century.

The last reform, in 2018, reorganised the management of apprenticeship. In 2020, France had 2 500 apprenticeship training centres and 629 000 apprentices. In 2018/19, 6 900 learners who were enrolled in alternance training in France benefited from Erasmus+ mobility, 30% more than two years earlier. ‘This dynamic, combined with a post-COVID recovery and increased funding, could reach over 10 000 Erasmus+ mobility workers in 2022,’ says Laure Coudret-Laut, Director of Erasmus+ France/Education Formation. The 4 080 apprentices in secondary education who left in 2018/19 accounted for 21% of the VET learners in Erasmus+ mobility that year. In 2018, the labour ministry announced its desire to double the number of apprentices on Erasmus by 2022. The Erasmus programme has been open to apprentices and trainees in vocational training since 1995. However, this mobility is often limited to a few weeks, unlike student mobility.

Former MEP Jean Arthuis, now President of EuroApp Mobility, is promoting the long-term mobility of apprentices and trainees. The action targets all kinds of obstacles: legal, academic, financial, educational, linguistic and psychological. Α French project to promote apprentice mobility within the EU could serve as a roadmap for ALMA, the new EU programme to help young people not in education, employment or training (NEETs).

As 22-year-old Arthur Miche, a car mechanic, testified after six months of training in the UK, the experience of mobility is not going to stop in France. ‘It was hard at first, but soon I felt good,’ he says, encouraging all apprentices to go for it: ‘This is a really crazy experience.’ The French EU Presidency of the first half of 2022 will work on similar topics that cover the European skills strategy, such as training strategies and retraining for adults, the impact of the green transition on training policies and apprenticeship, and European mobility of learners.

Please cite this news item as: ReferNet France; Cedefop (2022). Apprentice mobility increasingly popular in France. National news on VET

This news item was also published on Skillset and match – January 2022 issue 24