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France: the Regions at the heart of the national career guidance system

A new framework to support quality lifelong guidance services aligned to local needs is in place.

To improve the effectiveness of national guidance services, the law on vocational training, employment and social democracy assigned a leading role to the Regions. Since 2015, the public service of lifelong guidance has been provided jointly by the State (policy setting and implementation in public education) and the Regions (local implementation mostly in continuing training). The aim is to guarantee universal access to free, complete and objective information on jobs, training, qualifications, career opportunities and pay levels.

Regions create and monitor public regional guidance services (Service public régional d’orientation – SPRO). In this context, services are provided through a wide range of guidance networks for various target groups, with distinct governance and objectives.

The Regions have wished to intervene more effectively, particularly by extending the mission of SPRO to all potential beneficiaries in their territories (some examples are the Information platform in region Paca or the common phone number in Region Pays-de-la-Loire). The 2018 law reforming continuing vocational training, gave them this new mandate. The State retains the responsibility for defining at national level the career guidance policy and implementing career guidance programmes in schools. The Regions may inform schools on professions and prepare documentation for pupils and students (such as the guide on the food retails trade produced by Onisep).

Gradual implementation

A national reference framework, established jointly by the State and the Regions and signed on 28 May 2019, defines their respective roles and their joint intervention in education establishments. The framework is implemented in the Regions through an agreement with the respective academic regions (18 régions académiques, education administrative units are in place nation-wide).

Coupled with the reform of the general and technological programmes in upper secondary schools (lycées), this decentralised approach to guidance will offer pupils, by 2021, greater freedom of choice and better support and information on career, learning and training opportunities nationally and regionally.

In 2018/19, career guidance activities (dedicated hours in the timetable) were introduced in the first year of upper secondary programmes (grade 10, called ‘seconde’ in the national context) to help learners choose a career path. Further, the scheme is gradually being extended from the eighth grade onwards to all learners in grades 8 to 12.

The indicative annual duration varies from 12 to 36 hours in lower secondary programmes (respectively, grades 8 and 9) to 54 hours in upper secondary general and technological programmes (grades 10 to 12) and up to 91 hours per year in the upper secondary vocational path.

As of 2019/20, guidance for learners in upper secondary education aims to support them in making an informed career choice through progressive preparation:

  • the first year (seconde) of the upper secondary vocational path is organised around professional sectors (famille de métiers) for learners to get an insight into the sector before choosing an occupation;
  • time dedicated to guidance and student support (accompagnement);
  • more diverse pathways between school-based programmes and apprenticeship;
  • a career guidance module on employability skills in the final year of upper secondary education.

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