3.3 Skills forecasting
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In the 1990s, the French public authorities started giving thought to companies’ needs in terms of skills rather than simply in terms of employment; this led to creation of the “Forward-looking management of jobs and skills”(GPEC – Gestion prévisionnelle des emplois et des compétences) concept. GPEC is a human resources management tool that enables medium- and long-term (from 3 to 5 years) anticipation of the consequences of a company’s strategic choices and changes in its payroll. It has a range of objectives:
- Apprehending the company’s demographic problems;
- Encouraging qualification of employees;
- Controlling the consequences of technological and economic changes;
- Staying competitive.
GPEC, for example, can lead to implementation of individual and collective actions and programmes, training courses, mobility, and recruitment drives. The scheme is defined by Article L.432-1.1 of the Labour Code and Article L. 5121-3 of the Labour Code, which specifies that employers in companies with fewer than 300 employees are obliged to negotiate implementation of a GPEC plan every three years. Companies with fewer than 300 employees may benefit from State financial aid in order to do so.
Such job management is based on a multi-stage approach:
- “analysis of required jobs”, which aims to take account of jobs the organisation has or will have need of,
- “analysis of available skills”, which makes a quantitative assessment of the resources the company has available (analysis of the age pyramid, etc.),
- “analysis of gaps” between jobs and skills,
- “the action plan”, which seeks to reduces gaps between the jobs an organisation needs immediately or in the future and available skills.
At employment-area level, GPEC serves as a tool for “forward-looking management of jobs and skills” (gestion prévisionnelle des emplois et compétences territoriale), with the aim of “encouraging and supporting projects focusing on securing the professional paths of employed workers” and “optimising local employment possibilities […] and fostering sustainable socio-professional integration”. At local level, GPEC is based on a framework agreement, signed between the State, social partners, company representatives, local authorities and Pôle Emploi, which sets out the objectives, contents, operator(s) tasked with its implementation, and mode of management and evaluation selected for the agreement.
In addition to GPEC, there are other schemes anticipating professions, qualifications and skills, including “employment and skills development actions” (ADEC – actions de développement de l’emploi et des compétences) and the “forward-looking studies and technical support contract” (contrat d’études prospectives et appui technique), which are both based on agreements signed by the State (Ministry of Labour) and social partners.
Employment and skills development commitments (EDEC) are annual or multi-year agreements concluded between the State and one or more professional organisations or branches for the implementation of a negotiated action plan aimed at anticipating the consequences of economic, social and demographic changes on jobs and skills and adapting training and qualifications to these changes.
Employment and skills development actions (ADEC) have four objectives:
- “preventing risks of skills becoming obsolete;
- supporting professional mobility and evolution;
- maintaining skills development;
- having access to a recognised transferable qualification”.
They are based on framework agreements and funding conventions signed by the State (minister or regional prefect) professional and union organisations, which undertake to set up employment and skills development projects.
The forward-looking studies contract (CEP – contrat d’études prospectives) is a contract signed between the State and professional and union organisations represented in one or more activity sectors in the area concerned. The contract involves the carrying out of forward-looking studies providing wider knowledge of professions, jobs, qualifications and skills, and studying their evolutions.
The CEP is governed by Articles L.5121-1 and L.5121-2, and D.5121-1 to D. 5121-3 of the Labour Code. It is also based on a framework agreement signed by the State and a convention concluded between the State and the intermediary body mandated under the conditions provided for in the framework agreement.
Development of all young people’s professional skills is one of the Public Employment Service’s missions as well as the responsibility of the Ministry in charge of Education and Higher Education, which has been developing a focus on “skills” within its system for several years now, expressed by initiatives and implementation of schemes designed to raise young people’s awareness of the skills required for their social integration and helping them develop them at home. A distinction should be drawn between “key” and so-called “basic” skills: specific skills that correspond to professions and jobs, but both of which are the subject of different schemes.
"Common core skills"
In 2013, the Ministry of Education introduced the “common core of knowledge, skills and culture”, which redefined the “common core of knowledge and skills” established by Framework law no.2005-380 for the future of schools of 23 April 2005. The common core of knowledge brings together all skills, values and attitudes necessary to pupils’ personal development, sense of citizenship and social inclusion. It is divided up into several skills, regarded as essential throughout life, and is incorporated into lower secondary and primary school curricula, with each pupil being provided with a personal skills booklet enabling them to monitor their progress and the validation of their skills.
- “Languages for thinking and communicating”.
- “Methods and tools for learning”.
- “Personal and civic training: learning about life in society, collective action, citizenship”.
- “Natural and technical systems: scientific and technical approach to Earth and the universe, which aims to develop curiosity, the ability to observe, and problem-solving skills”.
- “Representations of the world and human activity”.
This foundation is acquired during compulsory education and mastering it is necessary to obtain a lower high school certificate. However, teaching and evaluation according to competencies continue in later high school years, although it is no longer a matter of the core curriculum in schools.
The common core is acquired during compulsory schooling and proficiency in it is required for obtainment of the Diplôme National du Brevet (General Certificate of Lower Secondary Education); nonetheless, education and assessment by skills continues during upper secondary education even though it may no longer be a matter of common-core skills and skills booklets.
As per the recommendation of the European Parliament and Council of 18 December 2006 on key competencies for lifelong learning, which was superseded by a Council recommendation of 22 May 2018, the Ministry of Employment also developed a policy in favour of the acquisition of “Key competencies”, which is defined by the DGEFP 2008 memorandum of 3 January 2008 on “the Ministry of Employment intervention policy on access to key competencies for those integrating into professional life”. The key competencies are the following:
– Communicating in French;
– Knowledge of mathematics and basic skills in science and technology;
– Knowledge of digital technology;
– Learning how to learn;
– Communicating in a foreign language.
The different measures for acquiring these key competencies or basic skills are aimed specifically at the most disadvantaged groups who do not have diplomas and who struggle to enter the labour market; young people without qualifications will therefore have priority.
The CLEA certificate, a certificate of professional knowledge and skills, was created by Certif'Pro, the national joint association for professional certifications. It certifies the mastery of basic skills.
Specific skills refer to the know-how, the qualifications corresponding to a particular trade, a particular training. These skills are listed in the officiel repertoire of professions (Répertoire opérationnel des métiers et des emplois) -Pôle Emploi. A little over 10,000 names of trades and jobs are described in numerous trade sheets.
They can also be found in the sheets of the National Directory of Professional Certifications, which compile up-to-date information on diplomas and titles for professional purposes as well as on certificates of qualification. These directories, which are accessible to all, provide information on the skills needed to access certain jobs (ROME sheets) and also on the training courses that can be used to develop these skills (national directory of qualifications). They also facilitate human resources management (HRM), GPEC and the mobility of professionals. For those in charge of vocational and educational training, these skills enable them to define the content and knowledge of their training courses, and thus to develop them in young people. Young people in school or young professionals are increasingly required to value the specific skills they have acquired during their higher education studies or internships with a view to their professional integration.
Universities, organised in consortia, have also developed tools that allow young people to develop through a platform and to highlight their skills, such as the portfolio of experiences and skills (PEC) which are integrated in 34 French universities.
The portfolio of experiences and skills (PEC) is a digital tool that compiles and maps all the experiences and skills of students. It also aims to enhance the value of their career path and training and to help young people in their professional orientation. The PEC makes it possible to develop a skills-based approach.
In addition, there are schemes to promote skills development through vocational training, such as the Personal Training Account.
The Professional training account (Compte Professionnel Formation - CPF)
Implemented at the beginning of 2015 and modified by law n°2018-771 of 5 September 2018 for the freedom to choose one's professional future, the Personal Training Account is an account funded in euros that can be used by any employee, throughout his or her working life, to follow training leading to qualifications.
This account provides each active person over 16 years of age with an account credited in euros. It thus converts professional activity into euros, enabling the holder to enroll in specific training courses (digital training, management training, payment of part of the driving license). The internship does not allow this contribution. Work-study programs do. It is not intended for the civil service or the self-employed.
In 2020 (the most recent data), CPF training entrants under the age of 30 made up approximately 49% of the beneficiaries.
Since 2023, private sector employees contribute financially to their training or to the validation of their acquired experience (VAE), as part of the Personal Training Account. This change was introduced by the 2023 finance law.
The CPF account can also be fed by volunteer work. The latter is therefore recognized as a source of skills and training. The Citizen Commitment Account (CEC) was instituted by the law of August 8, 2016 known as the "Labor Law" and allows for the recognition and enhancement of the volunteer commitment of association leaders. It allows, subject to eligibility conditions, to benefit from additional training rights credited to the personal training account. (See glossary). Volunteers wishing to benefit from this scheme must declare their activities on the tele-service for declaring volunteer activities: "the volunteer account".
These training programs, developed by the social partners at the interprofessional, national, regional and professional levels, allow students to obtain a diploma, a professional title or a certification that corresponds to cross-disciplinary skills exercised in the context of a job.
Procedures for validating acquired experience (Validation des acquis de l’expérience - VAE)
The VAE allows the experience acquired in formal and non-formal settings to be recognized by a certification, provided that you have at least one year of professional experience (1,067 hours). This certification can be a diploma, a title or a certificate, registered in the National Directory of Professional Certifications (RNCP). The objective of this procedure is to value the experience of people in precarious employment situations, as well as experience acquired outside a formal framework. VAE support can be financed by the personal training account (CPF). In 2019 (latest data available), 3,600 VAEs were delivered.
The law of December 21, 2022 on emergency measures relating to the functioning of the labor market towards full employment modifies the rules governing the validation system and provides for the creation of a public service for VAE. The system for validating prior learning will be modernized, simplified and secured.
The 2018-2022 Skills Investment Plan
The Ministry of Labor has implemented the Skills Investment Plan (CIP) 2018-2022 which aims to fight against mass unemployment. The plan aims to train one million low-skilled young people and one million low-skilled, long-term jobseekers, through skills-building, including digital skills and the implementation of tools to develop training opportunities such as the call for projects “100% inclusion”.
From 2018 to 2022, 15 billion euros, in particular, were dedicated to the axis "Building a society of skills" for this purpose.
By 2021, this plan had enabled more than one million people far from employment to be trained. The CIP has been extended for one year in the 2023 finance law (which sets funding at €3.032 billion). Eventually, the PIC's actions may be integrated into a new organization, France Travail, placed under the authority of the Ministry in charge of Labor.
The call for projects 100% inclusion
The 100% inclusion call for projects was launched in June 2018 by the Minister in charge of Labor and the High Commissioner for Skills Transformation to support experiments for training the least qualified people, particularly in the territories marked by inequalities. It must foster new territorial partnerships, collaborations between training organizations, companies, associations and local authorities.
Both private and public structures can apply. Expected projects must implement "integrated pathways from“remobilization” of beneficiaries to access to employment or sustainable activity". Young people and low-skilled jobseekers, particularly residents in the most disadvantaged areas, as well as people with disabilities are a targeted public through the call for projects. The initial allocation for this call for projects is 40M €. In 2021, 50 million euros have been allocated to the call to select 20 projects.
The non-formal education sector and skills development
More and more non-formal education structures are developing projects and programs for the development of so-called "social" competencies. Indeed, this competence-based approach (APC) is concretized by the creation of reference systems and competence booklets. Some associations, such as Animafac, have set up a "skills portfolio". This is a tool to identify the skills acquired through the associative experience and to make known the contribution of the associative commitment in terms of know-how and interpersonal skills, useful in a professional situation as well as during a job search.
The Franco-German Office for Youth (OFAJ) has also developed a platform to help identify social skills in relation to personal and associative experience, "AKI app".
Events and schemes to promote skills development
In addition to these skills development programs, numerous public events presenting vocational training opportunities as well as jobs and their specific skills are organized throughout France by employment operators, including Pôle emploi. Many of these forums are aimed at young people, such as the Salon Jeunes d'avenir" and the "journées jobs d'été" (forum for summer jobs).