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Apprenticeships, a path to excellence combining training and experience

Education Article published on 04 March 2021 , Updated on 10 May 2021

(Article from l'Edition n.15 - february 2021)

Université Paris-Saclay offers a large number of training courses which are accessible as apprenticeships. In compliance with the law for the freedom to choose one’s professional future passed on 5 September 2018, the University continues to be engaged in a process of reflection on this aspect. 

“The subject areas and levels of the apprenticeship courses on offer at Université Paris- Saclay are incredibly broad. We have 91 Master’s courses, a DEUST (French scientific and technical university diploma), 8 DUT two-year technical degrees, 39 Professional Bachelor’s and a General Degree. And since being joined by our partner institutions (AgroParisTech, ENS Paris-Saclay, CentraleSupélec and the Institut d’Optique Graduate School), we can also offer four three-year engineering training courses,” points out Sylviane Liotenberg, Apprenticeship Manager at the “Commission de la formation et de la vie universitaire” (CFVU) (Commission on Education and University Life) at Université Paris-Saclay. Each institution within the scope of the University is represented in a working group which reflects on how these constituent faculties and institutes and component-institutions will jointly continue to consolidate, develop and organise the training courses in the best possible way. 

Apprenticeship – a training of excellence which meets a social demand

Apprenticeships training is demanding as its timetable load is equivalent or superior to that of conventional training. Added to this is the time spent working. “Apprentices must possess good academic skills and be highly organised to keep up with the pace,” points out Stela Raytcheva, a lecturer and member of the LAREQUOI management research laboratory (UPSaclay, UVSQ). The aim is to accommodate the same academic rigour and requirements, while adding vocational training and a grounding in business professions. An apprenticeship is another way of learning, which brings together theoretical training, skills acquired at university and work in the form of professional projects. “Apprenticeships meet a social demand from students and companies. It is about training, employability and the acquisition of knowledge for everyone. In addition, it helps to strengthen links with professional circles and companies, and can lead to contracts and research projects,” explains Mourad Attarça, a lecturer in management sciences and a member of the LAREQUOI laboratory. 

A focus on apprentice mentoring

Université Paris-Saclay works in close collaboration with the “Centres de formation d’apprentis” (CFA) (apprentice training centres) in the context of apprenticeship training. Apprentice support is governed by the regulatory framework for apprenticeships. It is carried out by a university tutor appointed from within the training course, and an apprenticeship supervisor who is present in the company. “We support apprentices from their application to their graduation, their integration in the case of direct entry degrees, or their continuation of studies in other cases. As soon as a candidate apprentice is considered eligible, we support him or her in the search for an apprenticeship contract with companies,” says Carole Picinali, deputy manager in charge of apprenticeships, continuing training and relations with companies at the University Institute of Technology of Sceaux. “We carry out a very formal meeting with the tutor during visits to the company to evaluate the apprentice’s development of skills and gauge the level of consistency between what the apprentice does throughout the year in the company and what he or she learns at university. This creates relationships which sometimes lead some of the tutors to become involved in our training courses afterwards,” adds Hervé Chomienne, a member of the Paris-Saclay working group on apprenticeships and the LAREQUOI laboratory. 

Apprenticeships are a win-win situation. Future graduates know how to adjust what they have been taught to the context of the company in order to better integrate professionally afterwards, and the university and its departments can strengthen their links with companies in order to pave the way for many other partnerships.