Since the 2023 academic year, ‘business offices’ have been established in each of the 2 100 public vocational high schools (including comprehensive high schools with a VET path). 

This initiative is part of the vocational high school reform launched in 2022, as one of its flagship initiatives. The business offices aim to strengthen the connections between VET high schools and the business world, fostering stronger partnerships with companies. They act as a bridge between education institutions and their economic partners. Each business office plays various roles, including the following.

  • Developing partnerships and maintaining contact with the region’s economic partners. More specifically, this will be achieved by seeking economic partners, such as local businesses, and by initiating, formalising and following up the partnerships between these partners and schools. One further task of the business offices is to organise relevant events, such as career forums or visits of company tutors at schools. They will also contribute to the evolution of schools’ interactive training maps, which is developed in cooperation with the region and the State, and includes information on the attractiveness of diplomas, enrolment numbers, exam success rates, employment rates in each vocational high school, etc.
  • Organising the training periods in the workplace. The business offices are responsible for communication with the companies (human resources and tutors) regarding the applicable regulations, the monitoring of the training offered, and the required supporting documents for each training period. They support, for example, trainees signing training agreements, coordinating with their referring teachers, establishing the link with their tutors, managing their visits, etc. 
  • Bringing the school-company relationship to life enabling fruitful training pathways. This role refers to helping secondary IVET pupils and apprentices to find an apprenticeship contract or to prepare and follow up of their internship period. It also involves pedagogical support of the skills acquired during training periods, for example by ensuring the issuing of follow-up documents and work-study booklets between training establishments and professional environments. The business offices also try, in cooperation with local economic partners, to help final-year students with their professional integration in the labour market. Finally, the establishment of alumni networks is also supported as part of their tasks.

Each business office serves as a visible representation of the relationship between the vocational high school and its economic partners. They are physically located on high school premises. The location is chosen for its accessibility to external partners, pupils, and members of the education community. These offices are being run by business office managers. The French Ministry of National Education and Youth has recruited over 2 000 of these new professionals specifically to conduct the activities of the business office for which they are responsible.

Business offices, these new interconnection points, aim not only to build an easily accessible hub for all stakeholders in vocational education and training, but also to facilitate a more structured professional integration for VET graduates. Information about the effectiveness of this measure is expected when the first evaluation of its outcomes is available.

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Please cite this news item as: ReferNet France; Cedefop (2023). France: Upper secondary VET strengthens ties with the business world. National news on VET