Education

French apprenticeship: the best way for a restart in France

Are you looking for a restart? The French apprenticeship might be the solution for you! You may have started your career already and realize you want to be in France and doing an apprenticeship in France is a great way to finance at part of your studies in France and facilitate your professional integration too. 

You will have a French diploma, which often reassures employers and also get an extra 12 months to stay in France after graduating (with a specific visa for graduates from a French higher institution – available from Bachelor degree only) to find a job matching your studies.

It’s just the most secure and solid way to obtain a long term status in France.

What is the apprentice system in France?

Apprenticeship in France means being employed combined with academic courses via a tri-partite contract. This means that you will be a part-time student and a part-time worker. The working and training schedule will vary depending on both the training centre and the employer. 

This vocational practice is a good way for the student to integrate the work market and discover the French work culture at the same time.

This is also a great way to finance your studies since your employer will contribute to your tuition fees and you will receive a monthly salary that we will explain further below.

Who does apprenticeship in France apply to?

The French apprenticeship system originally applies to young people between the ages of 16 and 29.

Apprenticeships are also available to people over the age of 29: 

  • When apprentices prepare for a diploma or title higher than the one already obtained (you have a bachelor and apply for a Masters degree in apprenticeship)
  • Disabled workers
  • People planning to create or take over a business 
  • And finally high-level athletes.

So, as you can see the French apprenticeship does not only apply to young people just ending their secondary education looking for vocational training (which is also a great way to access the work market!). It also applies to young(ish) professionals that want to either press the restart button or do a specialization.

French apprenticeship application process

Anticipate your application

It is highly recommended to start the application process several months in advance, ideally six months, since you will need to find the school but also your employer. 

Some schools or universities have good networks with potential employers but you may also need to find it by yourself in some cases. You may also not find what you want in your universities contacts.

ONE IMPORTANT TIP: When looking for an employer, make sure you provide your training schedule together with your application as it is an important factor for the employers depending on the workload schedules.

The training courses mainly start in September, but some training centres also offer a start in January-February.

This will also be a good practice in terms of job search in France since it is easier to find an apprenticeship compared to employment in France due to the subsidies received by employers and the lower wages. But this doesn’t mean it is easy to find an apprenticeship. It should really be managed as a proper job search.

Where to start

The exact application process will differ depending on every school, but the common process will usually have the following steps:

  1. Find the right French apprenticeship course for you: Some schools and universities have courses in English 
  2. Find your employer for vocational training
  3. Once you are accepted into the course, you will get an apprenticeship contract from the school. This is the tripartite contract that should also be signed by yourself and your future employer.
  4. Once the contract is signed by all the parties, both the school and the employer finalise your course registration.

How to find your training course

Tip# 1: The official plateform

There are more than 500 Masters in apprenticeship in France and many of them are offered in English, especially at the Masters and MBA level. All the training are listed on the official website.

Tip# 2: French web search

Also, you can first research the school or university giving the course you wish and check if they offer the apprenticeship option.

Doing a Google search in French with “Master de [your area name in French] en alternance” can be a good start. This will also apply to Bachelors (Licence in French) or other levels of training.

Tip# 3: Campus France

Campus France is also a great source of information to find the training for you. Their directory includes higher education degrees from the Bachelor level. You will also find the training give in English.

Specific French apprenticeship work contracts

There are two types of work contracts that apply to French apprenticeships: the learning contract (called in French Contrat d’Apprentissage) and the Professionalisation contract (called in French Contrat de Professionalisation).

They both combine theoretical training in an educational institution with practical training in a company. But the apprenticeship contract is an initial training contract, whereas the professionalization contract is an ongoing training contract. The types and duration of contracts differ. Also, the age of eligibility and the remuneration are not the same.

Contrat d'apprentissage

Contrat de profesionnalisation

Contract type

- Fixed-term contract (CDD)

- Indefinite contract (CDI)

- Fixed-term contract (CDD)

- Indefinite contract (CDI)

Contract duration

When CDD, it matches the training duration up to the graduation.

For fixed-term contracts, the minimum duration is between 6 and 12 months. In some situations, it can be extended.

Age

From 16 to 29 years.

It may be up to 35 years in specific cases (as explained at the beginning of the article)

- 16 to 25 years (or 26 years and over for job seekers)

- Without age conditions for beneficiaries of the following subsidies: RSA, ASS or AAH

Training duration

Minimum 25% of the total duration of the contract

150 hours minimum and between 15% and 25% of the total duration of the contract

Remuneration

Between 27% and 100% of the French minimum wage (see below)

Between 55% and 100% of the French minimum wage (see below)

What salary to expect as an apprentice in France?

The apprentice remuneration will vary depending on your age and the year of training. It is a percentage of the French minimum salary (SMIC). 

The amount of the gross monthly minimum wage in 2021 is 1,554.58 euros and the remuneration of the apprenticeship contract is established as follows as of January 01, 2021:

Specificities for non-EU citizens

Since you will be working in France as part of the French apprenticeship, as a non-EU citizen you will need to have the appropriate visa that gives you the authorisation to work.

You will have several options:

1. The Student visa

This is the most common one. The French student visa authorises you to work 60% of the statutory working time per calendar year which is a total of 964 hours.

Your employer will also need to submit a work authorisation request at the DIRECCTE (the local Labour Ministry entity). 

2. There are other visas that give the authorisation to work and also study but with a family main motive, such as the Family reunion visa or the French spouse visa. 

How to find a French apprenticeship: key take-aways

Pros:

  • Easier integration in the French labour market thanks to a French degree
  • Studies partially financed by the employer (varies on the employers) in addition to the monthly wages
  • A student visa is easier to get than a French work visa
  • Once graduated with a French higher degree diploma, you can apply for the Unemployment permit, valid for 12 months the time to find a job

Cons:

  • It is a busy schedule with the studies and work schedule. The yearly 5 weeks vacation are often filled with study projects
  • Most Prefectures request the work authorisation from the DIRECCTE, which is an additional process that only the employer can do (it is the same process as for work visa holder)
  • Often a two-year training which can be long for some people, when taking into account the income decrease

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