In 2013, France received a country-specific recommendation on the need to conduct a broad set of reforms to improve functioning of its labour market and to develop lifelong learning further. France has made some progress in addressing this recommendation and adopted in March 2014 a law on vocational education and lifelong learning.
Main elements of the reform are:
- regions, as territorial authorities, become the key players in lifelong learning and career guidance. The law recognises existence of regional public services for lifelong learning and career guidance;
- career advice councils (CEP - conseil en évolution professionnelle) offer free-of-charge services to employees and job-seekers and support their career development with needs of the economy in mind. The goal is to provide continuity in career guidance between different stakeholders in training and employment and to offer personalised solutions to ease transitions from school to training;
- individual training accounts (CPF - compte personnel de formation) replace individual training rights (DIF - droit individuel à la formation). Every employee receives 24 hours of training per year worked, up to a maximum of 120 hours, then a further 12 hours of training per year to a ceiling of 150 hours. Courses pursued within this framework must provide nationally-recognised qualifications and/or diplomas. Courses must be part of a list established by national and regional social partners, and meet economic and labour market needs. CPF can be topped up with additional funding from employers and beneficiaries, regional councils, employment centres, etc.;
- funding rules for lifelong learning are revised: single contribution of 0.55% for companies with fewer than 10 employees and a contribution of 1% for companies with 10 employees or more. Contributions are paid to the joint registered collection body (OPCA - organisme paritaire collecteur agréé);
- OPCA’s role is redefined: their pedagogical design and HR support roles are reinforced, greater role in providing information on access to training and in career guidance. OPCA is responsible for quality of training provision and connecting job sectors and regions;
- all employees will be entitled to a ‘career interview’ at least every two years. It will allow employees to consider their career development. Every six years, employers will produce career evaluations for all employees, which generate a right to training or career change. Companies employing 50 people or more are liable to financial penalties if they fail to meet this obligation;
- governance of professional training is revised, becoming a quadripartite process with creation of a national employment training and career guidance council (CNEFOP - Conseil national de l’emploi, de la formation et de l’orientation professionnelle). Regional versions of this body also exist, bringing together organisations that represent vocational training regionally.