In November 2009, a Law on lifelong learning created a right to information, advice and assistance in vocational guidance. To allow all French citizens to assert this right, the Law also provided for the creation of a lifelong guidance body, the Service public de l'orientation (SPO), with two main missions: to certify guidance bodies and to implement a guidance service.
In May 2011 two pieces of legislation were adopted to define the conditions and procedures for obtaining the certification entitled Orientation pour tous - Pôle information et orientation sur les formations et les métiers (Guidance for all - information and guidance centre for training and trades). The certification is awarded on request to bodies that provide ‘exhaustive and objective information about jobs, skills and the qualifications necessary to exercise them, training and certification schemes, as well as training providers’. To qualify, the information must be provided free of charge to anyone who requests it and it must be provided at a single location.
The first ‘Guidance for all’ certification was awarded in December 2011 to the Cité des Métiers in Marseille. A Cité des Métiers is a multi-partner location where the general public can seek information to help them develop their professional future. It operates on the basis of the principles of independent access and anonymity and is free of charge.
The guidance service was officially opened on 6 December 2011 during a press conference convened by the Minister for Apprenticeship and Vocational Training.
A dedicated website provides assistance on guidance and a directory of the bodies that have been certified. It lists 2700 job presentations and 230 000 initial or continuing training courses. It also provides practical information on schemes, rights and training providers known to provide effective guidance.
The Guidance for all telephone helpline is also an important SPO tool. It is managed by the Direction de l’information légale et administrative (Directorate of legal and administrative information). The telephone helpline, where ‘everyone can have verbal access to information and essential advice related to vocational guidance’, complements the Internet portal.