Learning: the government unveils aid and new funding

The minister of Labour Muriel Penicaud and Edouard Philippe Matignon in Paris on February 9, 2018 (Photo STEPHANE DE SAKUTIN. AFP)

Barrier of age delayed to 30 years, funding for simplified and guaranteed, using the driver’s license… the government has unveiled Friday, the 20th of measures to attract more young people in learning, focusing on professional branches to make “a pathway of excellence”.

Until the end, this reform has given rise to intense battles, especially between the Medef and the regions. These last immediately condemned a project that according to them does not meet “the real issues”.

This reform aimed at reviving a sector that “patina” and “bogged down” in the words of Edouard Philippe, enshrines the freedom of creation of training Centres for apprentices (CFA), dispossessing the regions.

“The CFA will be able to develop quickly and without administrative boundary training corresponding to the skills needs”, explained the ministry of Labour.

In contrast, the regions are entrusted with “responsibility orientation”, currently in the hands almost exclusively of national Education. But the modalities remain to be defined.

The Prime minister Edouard Philippe, moreover, has not hidden during a press conference that there was “still a lot of things to refine”, recognizing a “lively discussion” since the fall.

“No one is questioning the importance of the regions in the device of learning,” he assured. Criticizing what he called “postures”, he has preferred to concentrate on the’common desire to advance.”

– Satisfaction of employers –

Nevertheless, the discussions promise to be lively between the Regions and national Education.

The prime minister said that action would be taken in a few days “initiatives to find a way of working with the regions” and to organize this “responsibility orientation”.

At the end of the presentation, Jean-Claude Mailly (FO), said he is “opposed” to transfer, “not completely settled”.

Present at the conference of the press, Jean-Michel Blanquer, minister of Education, has endorsed this change, but is referring to a “cooperation” with the regions in view of an “effective orientation”.

He also emphasized the “fluidity” of course, ensuring that there was no opposition between professional colleges and the CFA”.

The Medef has hailed an “ambitious reform that clarifies the responsibility of the actors” and the CPME is a “mini-revolution” by which “the company is clearly placed at the heart of the device”.

The U2P (craftsmen) has drawn attention to the necessity of “procedures simple and secure” in the areas of crafts, trade of proximity and the hospitality, very purveyors of apprentices.

“Companies now play the game. We will see in a year if there are more apprentices with quality courses”, launched Laurent Berger (CFDT).

– Assistance for driving license –

Among the measures included: opening up to the age of 30 years, revaluation of salary scale, in particular for young people. And aid of 500 euros for the licence.

For apprentices, minors, in the building or the bakery and pastry shop, the weekly working time may be extended (up to 40 hours in the building), a longstanding claim of these sectors.

The funding of the CFA will now be dependent on the number of contracts. Is going to be put in place a “contribution alternation” of 0.85% of the wage bill to replace the apprenticeship tax and the contribution for professional training contracts.

Its product is expected to reach some 4 billion euros, said the ministry of Labour.

The regions, which demanded a share of this contribution, should receive 250 million euros. They feel that the account is not there and that there remains “a risk of real territorial fractures”.

Another novelty: the social partners will now be involved in the writing of occupational qualifications.

While youth unemployment remains very high and that some trades fail to arm, the goal of 500,000 apprentices, established years ago, has never been achieved, despite the support measures taken by the successive governments. There were 421.700 apprentices in 2017.

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