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French training reform: Opportunity or constraint?

As global company, we always look at global news and how it will impact our customers. We recently had a breakfast in Paris with our customers and discussed new reforms French government will put in place effective January 2015.

French Business District

Do you know France currently spends €32 billion Euros ($43 billion USD) each year on job training? The majority of this money is spent to train existing employees. Critics say too little is allocated to the unemployed who are most in need of new professional skills. Is this fair, or is it hindering growth of new talent?

Before we look further, let’s take a quick history lesson to understand the development of French training laws and reform:


  • French trade unions and employers pass the National Intersectoral Agreement (ANI – l’accord national interprofessionel) creating Formation Professionnelle, the current vocational training program, covering training rights of employees who are dismissed or working in sectors which face economic difficulties.
  • Delor’s Law passes. Training develops as a means for personal development and social promotion, rather than a means to onboard new employees.


  • Training policy evolves and becomes a tool for French government to fight youth unemployment.


  • Job security issues arise.
  • French government starts to discuss individual training rights.
  • Government implements Knowledge Validation Process (Validation des Acquis et des Expériences) to improve work experience recognition.


  • French Government passes the Individual Right for Training (Droit Individuel à la Formation). The law provides 20 hours of training per year, accumulated over 6 years and partly transferable. Part of the training may take place outside of working hours , limited to 80 hours per year, paid at 50% of net earnings.


  • The Personal Training Account (Compte personnel de formation) replaces the Individual Right for Training and provides secure learning throughout the working life.
  • Simplified rules to help finance training (percentage of payroll).
  • Employees must develop skills and enhance their professional development through a cycle of interviews, assessments, and competency recognition.
  • Boost the competitiveness of organizations thanks to better trained people and right competencies.
  • Strengthening business negotiation and the role of representative institutions


What does all this mean for the French workforce?

Training has moved from an “obligation to pay” to an “obligation to act,” initiative for organizations to provide training solutions for their employees. Organizations will welcome a more competitive workforce thanks to better trained individuals with appropriate competencies building a more competitive market for employment.

Training Professionals:
Organizations balance company strategy, business challenges, and needs of employees. Training managers will need to find innovative solutions and tools best suited to answer this multiple faceted challenge.

Training managers will see their roles evolve. Training will be viewed as a strategic situation within organizations and training managers will become an integral part of this strategy.

Employees will take control of their learning activity, guaranteeing that received training will be carefully chosen and targeted to help them grow in their role. They will receive access to a wider variety of training, delivered in a more easy and friendly way (out of work time for example). Their training activity will be tracked by HR, who will meet with employees every two years to review training followed, and future needs with a legal appraisal every six years.

After reviewing the history behind French training reform, it is clear that the new laws are a great opportunity for many French organizations.  Learning is now core to employment and talent in France, as the basis for a broader opportunity for growth.



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