Last January Nicolas Sarkozy asked the former President of the Senate, Gérard Larcher, to produce a report covering an in-depth reform of vocational training. The report has been criticised by the social partners as well as by specialists in the field of training and by legal experts.

Even if Larcher seems to be satisfied by the measures taken since 2007, such as the creation of the FPSPP (a joint fund for securing career paths), the implementation of a public guidance service, the reform of Opca (a joint approved collecting body), and the priority given to apprenticeship and alternance training, he does not consider that the vocational training system is perfect.
‘Regarding the needs of the citizens, France doesn’t train much and training is intended mostly for people already trained’, he said. ‘Training is a major investment for our society and the competitiveness of our companies, the importance of labour costs and of research and development as well as the quality of our products and services are of deep concern at this time’. His report on an in-depth reform of training first of all seeks to deal with the shortcomings of a system in which ‘for a jobseeker, the average waiting time to benefit from training is six months’. Moreover, he aims to double the number of trained jobseekers and improve guidance for young people.
‘It’s too early to draw conclusions about the reform of 2009’, he said. But even if Larcher pleads for an increase in the regionalisation of vocational training, he emphasizes the prime importance of the State in the field of employment and training. ‘Ideally, an efficient policy in the field of training should be founded on a triptych composed of state services, the regions and the social partners’.

Larcher wants to retain the culture of apprenticeship of the German model. But we must pay attention to the unintended consequences: ‘In fact, we provide more training to highly skilled people than to those without or with a low level of qualification, even while they need more training’. He also thinks the apprenticeship tax should be used to provide training for all people and not only for students from higher education. The latest reform of Opca aimed at remedying this shortcoming.

The report covers the majority of vocational training schemes. According to Larcher, if we had to retain one element of his text, it would be the simplification of administrative rules. ‘We must make the field of vocational training more flexible rather than more rigid. This is necessary for our fellow citizens’, he concluded.

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