Arnaud Decagny, vice-president of the Région Hauts-de-France, in charge of apprenticeships, artisanat and digital transformation.
Do you feel that the image of apprenticeships has changed in recent years?
The image of apprenticeships has completely changed with regard to the students themselves. In 3 years, we have gone from 40 000 apprentices in the Hauts-de-France to more than 51 000. Apprenticeship is a real subject with a big overall increase in Bac +2 to Bac +5 students who are increasingly choosing this route, far removed from the “dead end” routes of the past. Before, apprenticeships were for BEP, CAP and Bac pro. Today, universities are opening up diplomas at Bac +5 level. The image of apprenticeships among companies is also constantly evolving. Their intake capacity is rising sharply, with a clear upturn in the technical fields. There is a real demand for vocational training and the business world is constantly looking for human resources. These young people are this resource and they are really perceived as employees within the company that welcomes them during their apprenticeship.
What are the main virtues of choosing an apprenticeship scheme in your opinion?
It should be noted that 7 out of 10 apprentices find a job within six months of leaving school on a fixed-term or permanent contract basis. Apprenticeships offer a real route to professional integration. Of course, apprentices benefit from a theoretical basic training but also from operational training which is highly appreciated in the world of work that awaits them. Their acquired skills are recognised because they are trained by real professionals. With the major reform of 2018 launched by the Ministry of Labour in order to boost apprenticeship and more generally vocational training, the Hauts-de-France Region has continued to provide financial assistance, particularly for investments by Adult Training Centres (CFA) in their projects for extensions, new training courses and other requests. All this while ensuring that there is no competition between CFAs and that the training needs are met.
Will you continue your efforts to develop apprenticeships?
More than ever, yes. It is one of the Region’s vocations to help apprentices and academic and private CFAs. We are one of the few regions in France that provides the most support for its apprentices. We are registering excellent results and are going in the right direction. For example, we continue to take part in the WorldSkills France, organised to promote the know-how of manual trades and apprenticeships. More than 600 young people competed in this 2022 edition, representing 64 different trades. Some of the professions are ancient, such as pastry-making, sheet metal work and carpentry. But the competition also highlights skills that meet the needs of tomorrow’s professions, such as cybersecurity, fashion, decoration or IT. We plan to increase the number of young people for the next edition to one thousand.