Every year, in France, around 80,000 young people leave the school system without any qualifications, increasing unemployment among those under 25, which is much higher than the rest of the population (17.1% compared to 7.4% in 2022). . This scourge, Emmanuel Macron, intends to push it back by looking for the causes, starting at school. “ Two thirds of dropouts are in vocational high schools (…) this is not acceptable,” affirmed the Head of State during his trip to a vocational high school in Orange on September 1st.
The key is a new reform of the vocational high school whose cornerstone is to connect students and businesses, starting from the 2023-2024 school year. For the Head of State, we must fight again “all cards to achieve 100% insertion and 0% dropout”.
“ Among the 12 measures proposed in the reform, we will, for example, put in place very varied optional courses to suit the interests of students and mentoring carried out by professionals. », Explains the entourage of the Minister Delegate in charge of vocational education Carole Grosjean.
Training to include businesses
To do this, the government is counting in particular on the help of associations. Thus, after having obtained the approval of the ministry, the collective A path for allwhich fights against inequalities in access to work, has, for example, created and implemented a pilot program with three voluntary establishments to give students a taste of the professional world, during the 2023-2024 school year .
In detail, around a hundred students from professional high schools will follow 4 modules of 100 hours spread over the year based on courses, carried out by speakers from the professional and associative world, and relating to “ knowledge different from that learned at school such as financial management, public speaking, initiation into the professional world or the development of human and social skills », explains Dylan Ayissi, the president of the association. Work carried out in partnership with the Business Institute which mobilizes its network of professionals to provide interventions in high schools. In addition to these theoretical modules, the association will set up workshops for creating independent projects called “masterpieces”. “ Struggling students have skills that are not generally manifested in academic courses but which they will be able to demonstrate during the completion of these projects », adds Dylan Ayissi.
When associations take charge of establishments
The SOS association even proposed a much more radical solution to the Jules Richard private high school: joining the establishment’s board of directors – in 2022, even before the start of the reform. An initiative aimed at co-managing the high school and in particular helping it to “ increase the attractiveness of its professional microtechnology baccalaureate with numerous opportunities and improve the inclusiveness of the training with students from all backgrounds », summarizes Lise Maurus, general director of the SOS group. Once in control, SOS implemented the same formula asA path for all : “ Offer optional courses with professional interest, organize interventions by external professionals or even have students participate in national competitions which highlight what they have learned during their courses », she explains.
And the recipe has already borne fruit. With 30% of students having special support (dropouts, students in difficulty) the high school posted a 100% success rate for the baccalaureate in 2023. Building on this success, SOS now wants to create a new professional baccalaureate in 3D modeling and prototyping and a professional technician baccalaureate in the production of mechanical products, being studied by the rectorate.
Uncertainties about scaling up nationally
The initiatives are developing, but uncertainty remains over the possibility of duplicating them on a national scale.
For the moment, partnerships between schools, associations and companies are limited to a few pilot high schools. But questions remain about the establishment of Business Offices, these new structures at the center of the vocational high school reform which must integrate the 1,086 vocational high schools spread across the territory to link the school and professionals.
Already, the first criticisms are coming: “lThe installation conditions are very poor. It’s done with forceps because there is a shortage of staff in the high schools », warns Philippe Dauriac National Secretary of the CGT Educ’action, responsible for the professional path.
The response of companies to the needs of high schools represents a second unknown.
“ There is strong motivation from companies but there must be a match between the specializations of the high schools and the professionals available in their territory. VSis a necessary condition for the availability of a sufficient number of business stakeholders to meet the needs for testimonials, mentoring, and associated school professors; and in the reverse flow a necessary condition for good conditions of access to internships and work-study programs taking into account the mobility problems of young people », insists Flora Donsimoni, general director of the Business Institute.
A condition that could create difficulties in rural, poorly industrialized areas.
A reform already contested
Especially since all is not won for this reform which has attracted the wrath of the main unions in the professional sector who called on Wednesday for a “ large-scale mobilization » on December 12 for “ demand removal » of the latter.
At the origin of their anger, a direct challenge to the strategy of integrating more professionals into high schools. “ Sending students to work will not lead them to study more, it will encourage them to start work as soon as possible. These are the theoretical courses that lead to higher studies », Regrets the CGT representative. An argument however brushed aside by Lise Maurus. “ 90% of our students continue their studies after their professional baccalaureate and 43% continue after a BTS », Defends the SOS representative. It remains to be seen which associations and companies or unions will have the last word.