French schools rethink their apprenticeships

Yann Morell y Alcover

French management schools are rethinking their apprenticeship policies as competition for public funding increases. While some schools are already reducing the number of apprentices, other schools are getting around this problem by setting up apprenticeship-like schemes through scholarships, internships or temporary contracts.
“The main challenge for the development of apprenticeships is the funding issue,” says Pierre Tapie, president and dean of Essec Business School and head of the Confédération des Grandes Écoles, a body which represents over 200 higher education institutions in France. Essec has already reduced the number of apprenticeships it offers to 650 from its peak of 760 in 2010.
Apprenticeships in France make it possible for people aged 16 to 25 to combine academic learning with concrete professional experience. The system involves a working contract signed by the employer, the apprentice and the training institution. Originally designed for vocational courses in the French lycées, it was opened to higher education in the late 1980s.