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Reference Year 2019

Understanding of apprenticeships in the national context

Q2. Is there an official definition of ‘apprenticeship’ or ‘apprentice’ in your country?


In France, an apprentice is defined as a young professional who follows a training that draws on an alternation of work-based (in-company) training and school-based training. The concept of apprenticeship is defined by law in the remit of the apprenticeship contract (‘contrat d’apprentissage’) and the professionalisation contract (‘contrat de professionalisation’), which are the two main apprenticeship schemes in France.

In both cases, apprenticeships are the object of individual employment contracts of special type signed between an apprentice (or his/her legal representative if the apprentice is minor) and an employer. Through this contract, employers commit themselves to remunerate the apprentices and deliver effective training and tutoring to them during the duration of the contract. Companies can organize apprenticeships fully or partly i.e. jointly shared with training centres for apprentices (centres de formation d’apprentis, CFAs). Through the contract, apprentices commit themselves to effectively work and attend in-company training at the signatory employer within the full duration of the contract.

Q3. At which level do apprenticeship schemes exist in your country?

At upper secondary level
At post-secondary (not tertiary)
At tertiary level
At sectoral level

In France, apprenticeship (both schemes) leads to qualifications at all educational levels, from secondary to higher education, by means of successive contracts or switching from school-based higher education to apprenticeships.

Besides formal education and VET qualifications, the professionalization contracts may be organized to achieve labour market qualifications at sectoral levels. These are qualifications recognised by the social partners. The social partners can adapt the contract de professionnalisation to a particular target group via a sectoral agreement. As examples, some sectors and their structures may be mentioned for their actions to promote apprenticeships, among others: le reseau éducagri, les maisons familiales et rurales (MFR), Comité de concertation et de coordination de l'apprentissage du bâtiment et des travaux publics (CCCA-BTP), L'Union des industries et métiers de la métallurgie (UIMM), les Compagnons du Devoir etc.

Q4. How well-established are apprenticeship schemes in your country?

A long history (before 2000)
A recent history (in 2000s)
Pilot scheme
  • The 'contrat d’apprentissage' has a long history as it has been available in France since 1919. 
  • The 'contrat de professionnalisation' is more recent (dating back to 2004) but this was preceded by a rather similar scheme, the 'contrat de qualification').

Q5. Relevant information that is essential to understanding the specificity of apprenticeships in the country and which does not fit under the scheme specific sections below.

International mobility of apprentices is a priority in France. The French Chambers of Commerce and Industry (CCI) act as contact point for trans-national apprenticeship projects, such as the Erasmus+ funded Movil’App projects that supports the mobility of apprentices.

An association that aims to spread the experimentation for the long term mobility of apprentices is

The national Erasmus+ agency has set up a programme specifically for apprentices :