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Engineering apprenticeship training

Q: What are the advantages of an apprenticeship-based training programme?
Obtaining an engineering qualification via an apprenticeship programme allows you to combine a qualification with experience, a salary and funded training.

Q: Is it possible to follow a study programme and work in a company at the same time?
Yes, Since 1987, in France, it has been possible to obtain a higher education qualification with alternating periods in a higher education institution (academic training) and a company (practical training), as part of an apprenticeship contract.
Today, 180 engineering degrees (“n +” Master's) are accessible via apprenticeship programmes, representing 12% of degrees (via conventional programmes).

For example, the EI-CESI, France's biggest apprenticeship engineering school, offers foreign students the opportunity to follow “n +” Master's programmes. These enable trainees to follow a combined work/study programme with the status of apprentice and to obtain a recognised engineering qualification after 2 years (CTI – French Engineering Qualifications Commission).

Q: What's the difference between an apprenticeship contract and a training placement?
Apprentices have the status of salaried employees, with the same rights and obligations as any other employee.
Their job covers numerous tasks and missions and, unlike trainees on a placement, they can benefit from a genuine progression in terms of responsibilities. If their work is not satisfactory, however, there are repercussions.

Q: How much does the training cost?
Apprentices have very little to pay considering the real cost of the training programme!
The training programme has the same real cost as any other Master's degree but it is funded by regional councils and by a special “apprenticeship tax”; consequently, it is almost free for the apprentices themselves, who receive financial support to help cover travelling, accommodation and canteen expenses.

Q: What is the benefit of training via an apprenticeship?
In 4 words: A qualification, experience, a salary, funded training.

Apprenticeships give students access to external funding to pay for their training, a monthly salary (for their living expenses) and, at the end of two years, an engineering degree (“n+” Master's), together with their first professional experience within a company in France.

Q: What commitments does an apprentice student make?
By signing the contract, the apprentice (as well as the company and the school) undertakes to follow the training programme (within the school and the company).

The apprentice, the company and the school make a reciprocal commitment regarding the fulfilment of the missions.
The school and the company are two training sites, which work together to ensure the successful completion of the programme. Some missions involve technical follow-up within the company and methodological follow-up within the school.

Q: What happens if an apprentice fails his/her exams, resigns or has his/her contract terminated?
If apprentices fail their exams, they may repeat the year and sit the exams again.
In the event of contract termination (e.g.: as a result of misconduct on the part of the student), the apprentice will lose his/her status and will have to leave France and return to his/her own country immediately.

Q: If I follow an apprenticeship programme, will I have the same qualification as everyone else?
YES: an apprenticeship is a specific training option and the qualification obtained is the same irrespective of the option selected.
You will obtain a Master's qualification (engineering degree) and the company will participate in your assessment.

Q: What do I need to do obtain an apprenticeship contract?
If you come from a non-EU country, before you travel, you must:

  • Be pre-admitted to one of the apprenticeship training programmes proposed by the "n+i" schools (e.g. EI-CESI),
  • Have received a letter of commitment from a French company,
  • Sign an apprenticeship contract with this same French company (proposed by the school),
  • Apply for a visa with a temporary work permit for foreigners ( “student” residence permit). along with a temporary work permit with the indication “apprenticeship student”.

Once in France, the apprentice must

  • With the help of the school ensure that all the administrative procedures relative to labour legislation in France have been completed,
  • The apprentice must check that he/she is registered with the French Social Security system (scheme for employees and no longer under the status of student).