Each year, hundreds of thousands of students in France enroll in ‘alternance’ programs to further their career or chosen vocation. Blending the theoretical knowledge gained from university classes, with a practical working environment, the French ‘alternance’ program is popular and often in high demand. So what actually is an ‘alternance’? What does it entail?
What is an ‘Alternance’?
An ‘Alternance’ typically refers to a form of education or training course that involves alternating periods of classroom learning with periods of practical work experience in a real-world professional setting. The educational programme (a degree or specific vocational training) is funded by the signatory business, thus making the French ‘alternance’ a very beneficial and productive opportunity for students and young workers. This approach is commonly known as 'apprenticeship' or 'work-study' in some countries.
In an ‘alternance’ program, students spend part of their time attending classes, lectures, or workshops where they acquire theoretical knowledge and skills related to their chosen field of study. The remaining time is spent working directly in a company related to their field, allowing them to apply the concepts they've learned in a practical context and gain hands-on experience.
The schedule of an alternant varies depending on their contract; the most common schedule is working 3 days out of the week and attending classes for the other 2 days of the week.
For example, if a student was completing an ‘alternance’ in Marketing, they would spend 3-4 days working for the company completing practical tasks for real-life clientele, and the remaining weekdays would be spent in a classroom working towards the educational section of their program (in this case, it would most likely be a degree in Marketing and Communications).
Alternance Salary: How much would I make?
The starting salary for a 21-year-old apprentice is 898 euros net (926 euros gross). In France, whilst internship salaries are capped at 600 Euros, ‘alternance’ students are compensated with a salary that is dependent on various factors. The salary is governed by specific regulations, and there are minimum wage requirements based on the age and level of education of the participant. The following table details these regulations:
Can anyone do an 'Alternance' in France?
In France, ‘alternance’ programs are generally open to a wide range of individuals, but there are certain eligibility criteria and requirements that need to be met. Here are some key points to consider:
Age: In general, 'Alternance' programs in France are open to individuals between the ages of 16 and 29. If you're registered as unemployed there are some exceptions.
Education Level: 'Alternance' programs are available at different educational levels, including vocational training, technical training, and higher education (universities and specialised schools).
Citizenship and Residence: 'Alternance' programs are generally open to both French citizens and foreign nationals residing legally in France. Non-EU/EEA citizens will need to obtain the necessary visa or residence permit that allows them to study and work in France.
Employment Contract: 'Alternance' programs involve a work contract between the participant and an employer. To participate in an ‘alternance’ program, you need to find an employer who is willing to hire you under an ‘alternance’ contract. The employer's willingness to hire you may depend on your qualifications, skills, and compatibility with the job role.
Educational Institution: You usually need to enroll in an educational institution that offers 'alternance' programs. These institutions collaborate with employers to provide both the theoretical and practical aspects of education.
Where can I find an ‘Alternance’ program?
Finding an ‘alternance’ position in France involves several steps, including research, and networking. Here are some strategies and resources to help you find an ‘alternance’ opportunity:
Educational Institutions: Many educational institutions have career services that help students source job opportunities. They often maintain job boards, organize job fairs, and provide guidance on finding opportunities.
Company Websites: Visit the websites of companies you're interested in working for. Many companies list their job openings directly on their websites. Look for career or job opportunities sections; It may also be wise to reach out to appealing companies to see if they would or are interested in offering an ‘alternance’ program.
Individual network: Talk to your peers and local network regularly as you never know who you may meet and what they can offer you as a young professional.
Why do an 'alternance'?
An 'alternance' allows you to further your career through both learning and work experience, making you an extremely employable individual.
An employer will appreciate your commitment to the dual program and will most likely want to hear about your experience. By combining education and/or training with first-hand experience, you are equipped with theoretical knowledge as well as practical first-hand experience which puts you at an advantage. Moreover, the statutory business funds the cost of your education or training. This enables you to navigate your chosen career path, gaining both experience and knowledge, without accumulating large amounts of student debt.
Alternance opportunities at My English Sister
There are several 'alternance' opportunities available at My English Sister allowing you to complete a funded master's degree whilst working in a business role. There are several criteria you will need to consider to apply:
speak fluent English
have the right to live and work in France (MES supports the visa process for high-calibre non-EU applicants)
have previously lived (studied, or worked) in France for a minimum of 6 months
have at least level B1 in French