Table of contents
- Overview of the French approach
- Legal framework
- The role of stakeholders
- Target groups
- Funding and resources
- Methods and tools
- Skills assessment
- Skills forecasts
- Skills foresight
- Other skills anticipation practices
- Dissemination and use
- Use of skills anticipation in policy
- Target groups’ uses of skills anticipation outputs
France has historically invested heavily in skills anticipation, which is characterised by strong stakeholder and social partner engagement. Skills anticipation in France is also quite fragmented, with several initiatives (covering assessment, forecasting and foresight) undertaken by different actors (public authorities, chambers of commerce, social partners, and sector organisations) in parallel. A large number of studies have been conducted at regional, sectoral and local levels using different methodologies. However the complexity of skills anticipation and high number of agencies engaged may prevent users (including students, workers, and unemployed people) to find the skills intelligence they require.
In general, a wide range of anticipation tools concerning both employment and skills have produced a substantial amount of information - but not a clear picture - regarding the skills that are in demand or likely to be in demand in the future. This may be explained by the need to provide anticipation analyses tailored to the needs of various target groups with different interests and needs (policymakers, regional and sectoral bodies, employers, employees, students and their families). This has arguably resulted in an over-provision of skills anticipation data and analysis that has presented user groups with difficulties regarding what sources to use. At the same time, the system had not managed to effectively identify skills shortages.
In order to tackle this issue, the government and social partners commissioned France Strategy (France Stratégie), (1) a body which aims to organise the sharing of experience, methods, and tools for carrying out skills anticipation exercises in order to improve coordination of the system and its ability to identify skills needs. The first result was the creation of a new French Employment and Skills Network (Réseau Emplois Compétences) in 2015 under the aegis of France Strategy which, with the involvement of stakeholders, produced methodological guidelines for agencies in carrying out anticipation exercises. In this regard, the Government and Social Partners focus on improvement of coordination of actors in skills anticipation.
Please cite this document as: Cedefop (2017). Skills anticipation in France. Skills Panorama Analytical Highlights. https://skillspanorama.cedefop.europa.eu/en/analytical_highlights/skills-anticipation-france
Overview of the French approach
Skills anticipation in France is characterised by the presence of several different stakeholders, at different levels: national, regional, sectoral and organisational (i.e. enterprise).
The public sector is the main actor in skills anticipation activity. At the national level the Ministerial Statistical Office for Labour and Employment (Direction de l’Animation de la Recherche, des Etudes et des Statistiques, DARES) and France Strategy have overall responsibility for anticipating skills needs. Inter-ministerial cooperation in relation to skills anticipation at the national level involves the Ministry of National Education, Higher Education and Research (Ministère de l'Education nationale, de l'Enseignement supérieur et de la Recherche), the Ministry of Labour, Employment, Vocational Training and Social Dialogue (Ministère du Travail, de l'Emploi, de la Formation Professionnelle et du Dialogue Social), and the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health (Ministère des Affaires sociales et de la Santé). (2) The National Employment Council (Conseil d’Orientation pour l’Emploi, COE), an associate network of France Strategy, brings together various stakeholders (e.g. social partners and experts) to discuss issues relating to employment and skills needs.
At the regional level the main players are the Regional Employment and Training Observatories (Observatoires Regionaux de l’Emploi et de la Formation, OREFs) which were established in every region in 1993. The national network of public employment services (Pole Emploi, PES) also undertakes skills anticipation activities to support the work of their local offices. At local level, there are also 300 Job Centres (Maisons de l’Emploi) that assist workers, unemployed people, and employers.
Another important actor in the skills anticipation process in France is the network of Chamber of Trade (CCA) the Chambers of Commerce and Industry (CCI) which publish labour market needs analysis for their members (small- and medium-sized enterprises). Some CCIs have also established occupational observatories. At sectoral level, trade unions and employer associations have their own observatories: the ‘Observatories of prospects of trades and qualifications’ (Observatoires Prospectifs des Métiers et des Qualifications, OPMQs). These were created in 2003 to facilitate better understanding of skills and lifelong learning needs at the sectoral level, to better serve the needs of companies and workers, and to inform discussions between the social partners by providing them with an indication of future skills needs. (3)
At company level there is legal obligation for companies with more than 300 employees to collaborate with social partners to design three to five-year strategies called Prospective Management of Jobs and Skills (Gestion Prévisionnelle des Emplois et des Coméetences, GPEC). These are explained in more detail below.
Finally, some anticipation initiatives formally bring together several of the actors listed above. For instance, Prospective Studies Contracts (Contrat d’Etudes Prospectives, CEPs) are undertaken between the Ministry of Labour, Employment, Vocational Training and Social Dialogue, trade unions, and occupational/employer organisations (e.g. bodies representing different professions) to understand the effects of social and economic changes on the future needs of the labour market over the next five years. These studies are supported financially by the state and are normally carried out by private sector organisations.
Skills anticipation activity aims primarily to support policymaking and help companies to avoid recruitment difficulties. It is also intended to help people make informed decisions about which courses to study by providing information about the sectors and occupations which are likely to grow in the future. Important in this regard is the report ‘Les métiers en 2022’ (Jobs in 2022), published by DARES and France Strategy in 2015, that shows how the occupational composition of the labour market is expected to change over the period to 2022.
There is limited regulation specifically in relation to skills anticipation. Information is provided below relating to regulation establishing a particular institution.
The Centre for Research on Qualifications (Centre d'études et de recherches sur les qualifications, Céreq) was created in 1970 within the National Information Office on Education and Jobs (Office national d'information sur les enseignements et les professions, Onisep) through the decree number 70-239 and became a distinct public institution in June 1985 (decree 85-634). Since its creation it has been under the supervision of the French Minister of Education. The OREFs were created within the Contract Plan 1989-1993 following the mandate from the government in 1988. The guidelines of the original contract plan have been updated in the four multi-year plans that followed.
In 1998 regulations were introduced for the establishment of CEPs that provided funding for unions and occupational/employer organisations to carry out skills assessments with a five-year time horizon. (4) In 2004 the Law on Vocational Training encouraged trade unions and employer associations to create OPMQs.
Finally, with the Social Cohesion Law in January 2005, the French government mandated that companies with more than 300 employees collaborate with social partners to produce a GPEC in order to anticipate the effects of changes in the economy and labour market on employment in the company over the medium-term. These plans should facilitate the anticipation of future skills needs within companies and lead to skills strategies being developed that will allow future skills needs to be met.
The governance of French skills anticipation is multilevel. France Strategy was commissioned in order to provide more coherence to the process. France Strategy established the Employment and Skills Network to streamline the whole skills anticipation system. The Network brings together representatives of the state, social partners, the regions and various observatories to address future skills needs. In cooperation with Céreq and France Strategy (amongst others), the Network drafted methodological guidelines for the implementation of anticipation studies for regional and sectoral actors. Activities are ongoing within the Network to encourage the sharing of experience, methods and tools. This, in turn, should facilitate further cross-sector analyses and greater cooperation between the various bodies involved in skills anticipation.
The role of stakeholders
There is a high level of stakeholder involvement in the skills anticipation process, including involvement by social partners, a range of sectoral organisations, and local/regional authorities. At the national level, the social partners are represented in key agencies such as France Strategy through their representation on the Employment and Skills Network and the COE. As noted above, France Strategy is trying to provide more coordination of the inputs that stakeholders make to the system. In this regard, the role of the Employment and Skills Network is important. At the regional level, the observatories engage with stakeholders. At the company level, production of the GPECs involves social partners.
There are also various sectoral bodies where the social partners have some representation such as the Branch Training Insurance Funds (Organisme Paritaire Collecteur Agréé, OPCAs). At the sectoral level, the Professional Consultative Committees (Commissions Professionnelles Consultatives, CPCs) with advisory powers are particularly important within the initial vocational system. There are fourteen CPCs, representing the main sectors. (5) Representatives of VET providers, social partners and government all take part. All ministries with an interest in training were invited to form CPCs (there are six of them in 2016: Employment, Social Affairs, Agriculture, Youth and Sport, Culture and Education). Even if CPCs are formally only consultative bodies, it is within their working groups that decisions are often taken about how training programmes should be developed in line with economic need. Even if CPCs are formally only consultative bodies, it is within their working groups that decisions are often taken about how training programmes should be developed in line with economic need.
The intelligence produced by various organisations producing skills intelligence is transmitted to stakeholders through a series of mechanisms. At national level it is the responsibility of Céreq to distribute the information. The Employment and Skills Network of France Strategy also involves a variety of stakeholders in addressing a number of issues related to employment and skills. Additionally, there are mechanisms at sectoral level; most notably the OPCAs and the National Joint Committee for Employment and Training (Commission Paritaire Nationale Emploi Formation, CPNEF) which are instrumental in disseminating skills anticipation information at the sectoral level via engagement with stakeholders.
Greater coordination among different levels is made difficult by the use of different methodologies, especially at regional and sectoral levels. For this reason, it has been suggested that skills anticipation coordination would benefit from simpler procedures to synthesise and exchange data and implement a common methodological framework allowing sounder cross-sectoral analyses. (6) The creation of the new methodological guidelines to implement anticipation studies in 2014 was a first step towards a solution.
There are several target groups for the skills anticipation outputs. Policymakers involved in steering vocational education and training (VET) provision are an important audience, but efforts are being made to provide intelligence to students, workers and unemployed people to help guide them make investments in skills.
Observatories focus on providing analyses and intelligence on skills and training needs to the social partners, employers and workers.
Finally, policy instruments such as the GPEC and Prospective Studies Contracts are aimed primarily at helping employers.
Funding and resources
The State meets the costs of the various national agencies involved in skills anticipation such as France Strategy and Céreq. The budget for the OREFs is jointly co-financed by the state and the regional councils.
CCAs and CCIs rely on the support of their members for funding skills anticipation exercises, but it is difficult to assess the magnitude of the budget earmarked for skills anticipation from their annual budgets.
At sector or territorial level, Prospective Studies Contracts are co-funded with up to 50 per cent of their total (or in special circumstances up to 80 per cent, capped at €90,000) provided by the state, with the rest of the cost met by employers and/or trade unions.
Within the 2007-2013 Operational Framework Programme, the ESF contributed to the production of labour market intelligence in France by funding analyses carried out at the local level by Job Centres.
Methods and tools
Skills assessments are conducted mainly by Céreq, DARES and the PES. The skills assessments are based on four main tools:
- Employer surveys;
- Surveys of workers and graduates;
- Sector studies;
- Other qualitative methods. (7)
Skills audits are conducted through surveys. Their aim is to provide detailed analyses of current skills needs and placing them in the context of historical trends. The CCIs also produce skills assessments (diagnostiques) on the employment situation at national and local levels.
Skills forecast activity at the national level comprises the studies conducted by DARES and France Strategy. These can be divided into two main groups:
• Statistical studies on labour market demand for 87 occupations;
• Quantitative projections, based on demographic projections and macroeconomic hypotheses concerning future labour demand and skills demand for 87 occupations ten years in the future.
The observatories, both at regional and sectoral levels, also undertake forecasting by combining quantitative surveys and qualitative information with macroeconomic projections.
Skills foresight in France is conducted mainly at sectoral, company and territorial levels. The state uses Prospective Studies Contracts to co-fund research at a sectoral and territorial level. These normally have a five-year time horizon and are undertaken by experts. They are based on the likely effects of predicted changes in the demographic structure of the labour market, technological advances, and socioeconomic changes.
Foresight activities are also undertaken by the COE, for instance on the effects of digitisation and automation on the jobs market.
At company level, firms with more than 300 employees implement GPEC plans, with the aim to mitigate the impact of change on employment and skills demand by factoring this into forward planning. The GPECs create the conditions for collaboration between employers and trade unions to develop appropriate training strategies to avoid potential skills shortages.
Other skills anticipation practices
France Strategy and Céreq draft a number of reports and studies every year. In addition to statistical studies, they conduct survey-based studies focusing on labour market adjustment mechanisms, trends within sectors and new patterns of work organisations, to observe their effect on skills.
Dissemination and use
Use of skills anticipation in policy
Skills anticipation outputs have a key role to play in policy. The main actor for the use of skills intelligence is Céreq, which leads research on future skills needs and supports specific commissions in formulating VET qualifications. Céreq looks to promote lifelong learning and tries to strengthen occupational mobility and skills formation over the life-course. Following the introduction of the French National Qualification Framework in 2002, one of the main uses of the labour market intelligence is to give a strong labour market focus to vocational qualifications. Skills intelligence is important in highlighting vocational qualifications of importance. Since 2007, universities have to reformulate their qualifications to highlight both the skills and knowledge that their courses will deliver. In this regard, it is important to understand the skills which are likely to be important in the future jobs market.
Target groups’ uses of skills anticipation outputs
Policymakers, workers, students, labour market intermediaries, unemployed people and employers are the most important user groups, and thus have a large amount of skills anticipation information available to them. Large companies have access to skills anticipation outputs also through the GPEC initiative.
Labour market intelligence is considered important in assisting young people make education and career choices, especially at the upper secondary level. For this purpose there are specific guidance counsellors (Conseiller d’orientation et d’information). There is an ongoing effort to give students the opportunity to develop the skills that will be increasingly demanded by the labour market in the future. Trade unions and employers take part in the OPCAs to arrange specific training and collaborate with the CPNEF to design sector-specific vocational qualification certificates on the basis of skills anticipation outputs.
Similarly, a Career Development Advice (Conseil en Evolution Professionnelle) was set up by the Vocational Training Bill in March 2014, to offer advice to all workers and unemployed people on their career and skills development.
Please cite this document as: Skills Panorama (2017), Skills anticipation in France. Analytical highlights series.
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(1) The General Commission for Strategy and Foresight, entitled France Strategy, was created in 2013 and replaced the Center for Strategic Analysis.
(2) OECD. 2016. Getting Skills Right. Assessing and Anticipating Changing Skill Needs. Paris: OECD Publishing.
(3) D’Agostino, D. 2012. Les observatoires prospectifs des métiers et des qualifications : des outils pour agir. BREF Céreq.
(4) BREF Céreq. 1997. Observatoire de branche et préparation d’un contrat d’études prospectives., Céreq.
(5) Metallurgy (with four sub-commissions, namely Metalwork, Aviation, Electrical engineering, and Automotive/agriculture/public works), Construction/Public works, Chemicals and Environment, Alimentation, Fashion Industry, Wood and derived, Transport/logistic/security, graphic and audio-visual communication, applied arts, commerce and distribution, administrative and financial services, tourism and restauration, hairdressers and cosmetology, Health and Social. For more information please refer to http://eduscol.education.fr/cid46815/cpc.html
(6) Gineste, S. 2008. Improving the capacity to anticipate EU-wide labour market skills requirements France. Contribution to the EEO Review: Autumn 2008, European Employment Observatory.
(7) OECD. 2016. Getting Skills Right. Assessing and Anticipating Changing Skill Needs. Paris: OECD Publishing.