Rouages: "Behind an orientation project lies the question of identity".

Cheikh Latrache and Matthieu Evrard are psychologists with the French Ministry of Education. Seconded by the rectorat to the SCUIO-IP, they advise, guide and listen to students at the University of Montpellier in their choice of training and professional integration. This month, as part of the "Rouages" video series produced by the UM, they tell us about their job.

I'm talking about a time that people over 30 can't possibly know, when we no longer speak of guidance counselors but of psychologists from the French education system. Their mission? To contribute to the success of students by helping them build their training and career plans. " With over 26,000 courses available just after the baccalauréat, and 11,500 professions, many students feel lost or at a loss. We're here to guide and support them through this complexity," explains Matthieu Evrard, who has held this position at the UM for the past 3 years, having previously worked in overseas France.

Like him, there are four of them, employed by the rectorat but seconded part-time to the SCUIO-IP, a joint information, orientation and professional integration service. " We're a small cog in a larger cog, the SCUIO-IP, which includes several departments," explains Cheikh Latrache, who has been working in Montpellier for almost 20 years. Alongside the orientation-information department, where the so-called "EN psychologists" work, there is a department dedicated to support and professional integration, and a third responsible for carrying out surveys on students' professional integration.

Over 700 students a year

Heading for the BU Science on the Triolet campus, where the two professionals welcome over 700 students every year from the Faculty of Science, of course, but also from the various IUTs, the IAE and Polytech, enrolled at levels ranging from L1 to Master's and sometimes even Doctorate. " Half of the students come for reorientation reasons, the other half to build a project for further studies with a professional purpose ", explains Cheikh Latrache.

To provide the best possible guidance, educational psychologists rely not only on their knowledge of career paths and professions, but also on their self-knowledge. " We try to match people's interests, qualities, values and skills with a certain type of profession or stream. The psychological dimension is central," explains Matthieu Evrard, who holds a master's degree in psychology. This is a prerequisite for the DECOP, the French state diploma for guidance counselors and psychologists.

A well-stocked toolbox

In addition to interviews, these psychologists also provide advice as part of collective actions organized at the request of components and departments at all Université de Montpellier sites, including the delocalized sites of Béziers and Nîmes. " The aim here is to enable students, whether in initial or continuing training, to start building their own projects," continues Cheikh Latrache. We also offer the C3R certification for success, reaction and rebound, which enables students who have dropped out of school to develop a future project and acquire written and oral communication tools.

Faced with students tempted to see educational psychologists as " magicians capable of guiding them with a wave of a magic wand ", the latter have a well-stocked toolbox at their disposal: guidance aids such as personality tests and questionnaires; well-known references such as Onisep, CIDJ orIJBox; digital workspaces that now offer access to the employment resource guide; government platforms such as and, of course, Parcoursup.

A world of constraints

These tools have certainly simplified access to information on training and career guidance, but they have also profoundly transformed it: "With Parcoursup, young people have a clearer idea of what's out there than in my day," explains Matthieu Evrard. On the other hand, there's something a little time-consuming and anxiety-provoking about it, with a set number of wishes and a timetable to keep to. " This anxiety-inducing dimension is perhaps increasingly present in the profession of educational psychologists.

We intervene to help people at a time when they are questioning themselves, when they have doubts, and it's this accompaniment that appeals to me enormously," emphasizes Cheik Latrache. It requires listening, kindness and an ability to accept other people's requests. " Behind an orientation project lies the question of identity, of the place we're going to occupy in society, and so students often arrive with a high level of stress. Our job also aims to reduce this stress by giving them room to maneuver in a world of constraints," concludes Matthieu Evrard.