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Apprenticeship contract

Contrat d’apprentissage

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Reference Year 2019

Target group

Q6. Does the legal basis define the minimum and maximum age limits for enrolment of the target group of this scheme?

Minimum and maximum age limits defined
Minimum age limits defined only

It is possible to sign an apprenticeship contract when a person is at least 16 years old and maximum 29 years old.

Young people aged at least 15 may start an apprenticeship contract if they have completed lower secondary education.

Source : Article L6222-1of the Labour Code :

Q7. What is the average age of learners in practice?

Between 15 and 18
Between 18 and 24
Above 24

In 2018, young people under 18 years of age represented more than of one third of new entrants (36.0%); 60.9 % were between 18 and 25 years old.

Source : Dares Résultats 2020-017 - Les contrats d’apprentissage en 2018

Overview of the scheme

Q8. Is the scheme included in the ISCED 2011 mapping?


The scheme is not explicitly referred to in the ISCED 2011 mapping but reference to ISCED is made transversally in the corresponding VET qualifications, e.g. VET secondary education pathways leading to CAP (Certificat d’aptitude professionnelle) qualifications, short higher programmes leading to BTS (Brevet de technicien supérieur) qualifications, etc.

Q9. Is there any organization at the national level with roles in co-ordinating the scheme?


A new public body has been created by the 2018 law for the freedom to choose one's professional future, France compétences, which is responsible for regulating apprenticeships. It ensures financial equalisation, contributes to the monitoring and evaluation of the quality of training activities, and observes the costs and levels of funding for training. It draws up and updates the national directory of professional qualifications (repertoire national des certifications professionnelles, RNCP). Its strategic orientations are determined by a quadripartite governance made up of the State, the regions, representative trade unions and employers' organisations at national and cross-industry level, and experts.

Q10. When was the scheme introduced?

Long history (before 2000)
Recently introduced (between 2000-2012)
New pathway (after 2012)

The 'contrat d’apprentissage' has a long history as it was introduced in 1919.

Q11. How did the apprenticeship scheme originate?

Traditional craftsmanship (master-apprentice relation) to prepare apprentices for the occupation
School-based VET track by including more work-based learning to supply skilled workforce to match labour market needs

Originally developed in line with traditional craftsmanship (master-apprentice relation) to prepare apprentices for craft occupations, the scheme has progressively expanded over the years to be now present in most fields and occupational sectors (ranging from agriculture to industry and services). Initially centred on the VET sector, the 'contrat d’apprentissage' can be now accessed for a range of higher education programmes too (ranging from short professional-oriented cycles to longer academic-oriented ones such as Master programmes in engineering or business fields for instance).

Q12. What are the sources of financing of the direct costs for the in-company training part of the apprenticeship scheme?

Single employers hosting apprentices
Sectoral funds

Funding for apprenticeship comes mainly from:

  • Companies: in addition to the apprentice salary, they contribute by paying a lifelong learning tax;
  • The skills operators (OPCO)* pay for apprentice training, according to the level of coverage determined by the professional branches and regulated by France compétences;
  • The State e.g. partial or full coverage of apprentices’ social security fees, financial incentives.
  • The Regions, which provide funding for the training providers CFAs.

* Eleven skills operators (OCPO), are responsible for supporting vocational training. These skills operators are responsible for financing apprenticeships, helping branches to develop professional qualifications and assisting SMEs to define their training needs. They are approved by the State. Approval is subject to the existence of an agreement concluded between the employees' trade unions and the representative professional organisations.

Q13. Are there any financial incentives for companies that offer apprenticeship places?

Yes, subsidies
Yes, tax deductions
Yes, other incentives
No financial incentives

There are various government subsidies to support the take up of apprenticeship contracts. The main one is the one-off subsidy for employers of apprentices, which is intended for companies with fewer than 250 employees for the conclusion of an apprenticeship contract for a diploma or professional qualification equivalent to a level no higher than the baccalaureate.

In addition to this subsidy, apprenticeship contracts are fully or partially exempted from social security charges, and specific subsidies are granted for the recruitment of apprentices with disabilities.

Q14. How many learners are enrolled in this scheme?

With 495,000 contracts signed in 2020 compared with 353,000 in 2019, apprenticeships grew by 40%, with an even increase across all regions. Recent statistics show that the positive trend in apprenticeship starts (since 2018) includes all levels and types of qualification apprenticeship prepares for.

Although this increase partly reflects a shift in the balance between apprenticeship and professionalization contracts, it can be estimated that there was a net creation of 60,000 additional apprenticeship places in 2020.

Source :

Q16. Which is the type of qualification obtained through the apprenticeship scheme?

Formal VET qualification (which does not indicate the pathway)
Formal VET qualification (which indicates the pathway)
Formal apprenticeship qualification (journeyman, etc.)

The 'contrat d’apprentissage' leads to qualifications formally registered by France compétences in the national repertory of professional qualifications (Répertoire national des certifications professionnelles (RNCP). Such qualifications do not indicate the pathway.

Among the qualifications that are accessible via the scheme three main categories can be outlined:

  • VET secondary qualifications (CAP, CAPA, BEP, Bac Pro, BP, BTM)
  • Higher education qualifications (Brevet de Maîtrise (BM), Brevet de Technicien Supérieur (BTS), Diplôme (DUT, Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees)
  • Professional certifications (titre professionnel inscrit au RNCP) recognised by the State in given occupational sectors such as hotel and catering, tourism, building, trade, etc.

Overall, the qualifications obtained through this scheme are very diverse in scope as well as in regard to the profile of the learners they attract. Further information available at:


Q17. Is the qualification included in the National Qualification Framework (NQF)?

There is no NQF

The 'contrat d’apprentissage' leads to qualifications formally recognised by France competences (in the Répertoire national des certifications professionnelles (RNCP), which is the NQF.

Further information available at:

Q19. Does the scheme provide direct access to higher education?


37.9% of new contracts prepare for a certification at Level 8-5 (EQF levels).

Source : Dares Résultats 2020-017 - Les contrats d’apprentissage en 2018



Q21. If the scheme is implemented via specific apprenticeship programme, what is its duration?


Q22. If the scheme is not implemented via specific apprenticeship programme, how is duration of apprenticeships defined in the regulation?

It Is defined as minimum and maximum share of a VET programme
Is defined as minimum share of a VET programme
Is defined as maximum share of a VET programme
Is not defined by regulation

It varies between six months and three years.

It is always the certificate awarding body (certifier) that decides the minimum duration. France Competence oversees these certifications.

Q23. Is there a distinction between the training time and working time for the period spent at workplace, as per regulation?

Yes, the legal framework makes this distinction
No, the legal framework makes no distinction

Alternation of work-based (in-company) training and school-based training

Q24. Is it compulsory to alternate training between two learning venues (school and company)?


Apprenticeship involve:

1) Training in one or more companies, based on the exercise of one or more professional activities directly related to the qualification which is the purpose of the contract.

2) Teaching given during working hours in an apprentice training centre (Article L6211-2 of the French Labour Code).

The employer undertakes to provide the apprentice with vocational training, partly in the company and partly in an apprentice training centre.

Q25. Is the in-company training defined as minimum share of the apprenticeship scheme duration?

Yes, equivalent or more than 50% of scheme duration
Yes, between 20% and 50% of the scheme duration
Yes, less than 20% of the scheme duration
No, no minimum share is compulsory

The French Labour Code requires that, subject to the rules set by the certification awarding body (certifier) for the certification in question, the duration of apprenticeship training in the training center may not be less than 25% of the total duration of the contract (Article L6211-2 of the French Labour Code). In this case, the Ministry of Labour determines a standard that applies in the event that the certifier has not imposed its own standard.

Q26. What is the form of alternation of training between workplace (company) and school?

Every week includes both venues
One or more weeks (less than 1 month) spent at school followed by one or more weeks at workplace
One or more months (less than 1 year) spent at school followed by one or more months at workplace
A longer period (1-2 years) spent at school followed by a longer period spent training at workplace
Various – depends on agreements between the school and the company
Not specified

The form of alternation varies according to the certification chosen. For example, 2 days at the CFA and 3 in the company, or 15 days at the CFA and 15 days in the company.

The distribution of training hours is not defined in the same way for different certifications.

- If the presence in the company requires a particular qualification (obtaining a specific permit prior to entering the company, for example), the apprenticeship contract may begin with this training in a training organisation for the time necessary to obtain this permit, then continue with an alternation of 2 days in the CFA and 3 days in the company.

- another case is if the company is experiencing a particularly important period for its annual activity during a month and the apprentice must take part in it. The apprenticeship contract can begin with this one-month period in the company, then continue with a one-week alternation in the CFA, 15 days in the company.

Formal relationship with the employer

Q27. Is any contractual arrangement between the learner and company, required as per regulation?


The contractual arrangement is one of the core principles of the scheme. Apprenticeships are the object of individual labour contracts signed between an apprentice and an employer. Through this, employers commit themselves to remunerate the apprentices and deliver effective training and tutoring to them during the duration of the contract. Apprentices commit themselves to effectively work for the signatory employer for the full duration of the contract.

Q28. What is the nature of the contractual arrangement?

Apprenticeships are a specific type of contract
Apprenticeships are an ordinary employment contract
A formal agreement

The apprenticeship contract is a contract of employment of a particular type concluded between an apprentice and an employer (Article L6221-1 Of the Labour Code) which contains mandatory clauses and references (Article L6222-4 Of the Labour Code).

Q29. Where is the contract or the formal agreement registered?

At the school
At the Ministry of employment
At the chambers
At the Ministry of education

The contract is to be registered by the employer to his skills operator (Article D6224-1of the Labour Code).

Q30. What is the status of the learner?

Apprentice is a specific status

During an apprenticeship contract, the learner has the status of an apprentice, i.e. is both an employee of a company and a student at the CFA.


Q31. Do apprentices receive a wage or allowance?

Yes, all apprentices receive a wage (taxable income)
Yes, all apprentices receive an allowance (not a form of taxable income)
Apprentices receive a reimbursement of expenses
No form of compensation is foreseen by law

The salary paid to apprentices is determined by their age and the level of progression into the apprenticeship (i.e. yearly augmentation until the end of the contract

Q32. How is the apprentice wage (taxable income) set?

By law (applying for all)
By cross-sectoral collective agreements at national or local level
By sectoral collective agreements at national or local level
By firm-level collective agreements or individual agreements between apprentice and company

The salary paid to apprentices is determined by their age and the level of progression into the apprenticeship (Article L6222-27of the Labour Code). It is calculated based on a pre-determined percentage of the minimum salary (salaire minimum conventionnel de l’emploi occupé (SMIC[1])) as follows:


[1] In 2021 SMIC corresponds to € 10,25 per hour. Further details available at:

Q33. Who covers the cost of the wage or allowance of the apprentice?

  • The employer pays a salary (Article L6221-1 of the Labour Code)
  • Exemption from social security contributions for apprenticeship contracts is financed by the State with an annual budget of €594.9 million.

Source : Annexe Formation professionnelle au PLF 2021 (

Q34. Does the wage or allowance of the apprentice cover both the time spent at school and in the company?

No, it covers only the time spent in the company

The time spent by the apprentice both in the company and at the training centres is included in the work hours (Article L6222-24 of the Labour Code).

Responsibility of employers

Q35. Is the company hosting apprentices required by regulation to follow a training plan at the workplace?

Yes, the training plan is agreed at the level of school and company
Yes, the training plan is based on the national/sectoral requirements for the in-company training
No, is not required formally

The legislation sets that the training plan is agreed at the level of the school and the company. In agreement with the company, the training provider (CFA) must agree in advance with the learner the training objectives in the short, medium and long term. The training provider and company representatives define and agree an annual progression plan too.

The object of the contract is a qualification-certification set at national level. Hence, the individual training plans have to reflect the content of the relevant qualification-certification.

Q36. What are the requirements on companies to provide placements, as per regulation?

Have to provide a suitable learning environment
Have to provide a mentor / tutor / trainer

Any enterprise (private or public) can hire an apprentice if the employer commits him/herself to effectively organize and support the apprenticeship. The employer undertakes to provide the apprentice with vocational training, partly in the company and partly in an apprentice training centre.

For this purpose, the employer must notably ensure adequate conditions (appropriate infrastructure, equipment and techniques used, working conditions, sanitation and security, etc.) to allow the apprenticeship to be carried out in a satisfactory manner.  

Article L6221-1 of the Labour Code

The employer gives the apprentices tasks or occupations enabling them to carry out operations or work in accordance with an annual progression defined by agreement between the CFA and company representatives.

Art. L6223-3 of the Labour Code

Recruiting an apprentice requires the employer to choose a volunteer apprentice master among skilled workforce to accompany him/her during his/her training at the company.

The conditions of professional competence required of an apprenticeship master are determined by collective sector agreement.

In the absence of such an agreement, the conditions of professional competence required of an apprenticeship master are determined by regulation (Article L6223-8-1 code of labour):

1. Persons who hold a diploma or title in the professional field corresponding to the purpose of the diploma or title being prepared by the apprentice and of at least an equivalent level, and who can prove that they have been working for one year in a professional activity related to the qualification being prepared by the apprentice;

2. Persons who can prove that they have been working for two years in a professional activity related to the qualification prepared by the apprentice.

Article R6223-22 code of labour

The employer guarantees that the company's equipment, the techniques used, the working, health and safety conditions, the professional and pedagogical skills and the morality of the persons responsible for the training are such as to permit a satisfactory training.

Article L6223-1 of the Labour Code

Q37. Are there any sanctions on companies that do not provide training to apprentices at the workplace?


Sanctions exist in case employers do not fulfil their commitment to train the apprentice. For instance, in the event the employer or the working conditions/environment offered are considered to endanger the apprentice (e.g. representing a risk for his or her health, physical or moral integrity) a monitoring visit can be carried out by a work Inspector. If this results in a negative evaluation, sanctions can take the form of a suspension or termination of the apprenticeship contract. If this leads to a termination of the contract, the CFA has the responsibility to look for another employer where the apprentice can effectively pursue the apprenticeship.

Q38. What is the role of chambers, employers’ and employees’ representatives, sectoral councils (if existent), in shaping apprenticeship content, as per regulation?

Role in designing qualification
Role in designing curricula
No role

To include a new certification or to revise an existing regulation in the RNCP, an advice of the representatives of the labour market (employers, unions and professional branches) is needed.

France compétences, whose managing board includes representatives of the social partners, regulates the national register of qualifications RNCP, ensuring that they meet the needs of the economy and is responsible for registering them (Article L6113-5 of the French Labour Code).

Q39. What is the role of chambers, employers’ and employees’ representatives in implementing the apprenticeship scheme, as per regulation?

Role in final assessment of apprentices
Role in accreditation of companies
Role in monitoring of the in-company training
No role

The professional branches are responsible for setting the level of support for each certification and the training needs for the sectors they represent. 

The social partners are present in the National Joint Employment Commissions, which are also competent for the final certification.

France Compétences monitors and assesses the apprenticeship system.