Since 2005, the number of apprentices in France has more than doubled, largely due to the significant increase in apprenticeships in higher education. In 2020, more than 2,700 students and 2,190 companies have made this win-win choice in our territory. Let's take a look at the reasons for this success with Philippe Pierrot and Marie-Elisabeth Avignon from the CFA EnSup-LR.

"Experience required: 2 years ". This little note at the bottom of a job offer is a bitter experience for many young graduates. But there is a solution: apprenticeship. In fact, almost all higher education courses are now available as apprenticeships. Law, science, commerce, environment, technology, agri-food, management... More than 200 courses are offered as apprenticeships in Languedoc-Roussillon," explains Philippe Pierrot, director of the CFA EnSup-LR. And all diplomas are concerned.

Launched more than 25 years ago, apprenticeships in higher education have grown by more than 100% over the last ten years. And the trend continues to grow: " When the CFA was created in 2015, we had just under 1,100 apprentices; today we have over 2,700," says Marie-Elisabeth Avignon, the deputy director. Supported by the University of Montpellier, the CFA EnSup-LR brings together six entities:Paul-Valéry University, the Universities of Nîmes and Perpignan, theInstitut Agro - Montpellier SupAgro, theÉcole Nationale Supérieure de Chimie de Montpellier and, of course, the UM. " The apprentices are present throughout the region, i.e. 40 sites from Narbonne to Florac, via Nîmes, Perpignan, Mende, Carcassonne, Alès, Béziers, Sète and, of course, Montpellier," explains Philippe Pierrot.

The double life of apprentices

Far from the old-fashioned image of apprenticeships being reserved for young people who are not well-suited to study, apprenticeships in higher education require a high level of motivation on the part of students who choose them. " Those who take this route know that they will have to give much more than a regular student. They will have the same courses, the same content, the same exams as in initial training, while following their course in a company," explains the director. And all this with a graduation rate of 95%.

To enable them to lead this double life, the teaching teams adapt to the specificities and timetables of each activity. " In certain branches, such as accounting, for example, it is imperative that apprentices are fully available at the time of the end-of-year assessments," explains Marie-Elisabeth Avignon.

Apprenticeship status therefore requires maturity and rigour but offers many advantages. In addition to the payment of a salary which allows access to studies for those who do not have a lot of means, this system allows young people to benefit from additional skills compared to initial training. In addition, they build up a professional network that will help them to find employment. " Only 6% of apprentices have not found a job six months after obtaining their diploma. In professional bachelor's and master's degrees and at the end of engineering school, the rate of integration is close to 100%," says Philippe Pierrot. Once they are in a job, they will also be able to take on responsibilities more quickly.

A win-win contract

In practice, the apprenticeship contract works exactly like an employment contract. It is signed between the two parties, the apprentice and the company, and can last from six months to three years depending on the diploma sought. " Apprentices have the same rights as any other employee of the company and the same benefits such as health insurance and luncheon vouchers. The CFA assists them in finding an employer and in the administrative management of their contract," emphasises Philippe Pierrot. A minimum salary ceiling is set by law, but the company can of course go beyond this. Finally, the company undertakes to supervise the student by appointing an apprenticeship supervisor.

Today, more than 2,190 employers work with the CFA EnSup-LR, representing companies of all types and sizes. Although 60% of them are in Occitania, the CFA also works with companies in Ile-de-France, PACA, etc. Apprenticeship is not just for the private sector, the university, the tax authorities, the post office and the hospital also recruit apprentices. " It's a very effective pre-recruitment mechanism that allows companies to access new skills and, for some of them, skills that they couldn't afford otherwise. It's a real win-win situation," says Marie-Elisabeth Avignon.

A driver for educational change

Although the implementation of a work-study programme requires a strong commitment from the teaching teams, it also allows the training to evolve thanks to the feedback from young people in companies. The 25 members of the CFA EnSup-LR team support this development. " We are there to support the teaching teams during the implementation of the training, but also during the course. We make the link with the company and advise them throughout the year," concludes Philippe Pierrot. A Mooc and webinars are also available on the CFA website. So you can continue to learn how to learn.