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Charter aims to bring school and business closer

FRANCE.

IMPROVED links between schools and firms, and courses to take greater account of the needs of business and industry, will be introduced as part of an overhaul of vocational education.

Launching his vocational charter for the 21st century, education minister Claude Allegre said it would aim to "build true skills which will lead to recognised diplomas and respond to the job market".

There are 700,000 pupils attending France's 1,800 vocational upper secondary schools. Two thirds of them are on vocational courses, while the rest are studying for the more demanding baccalaureat professionnel. In total there are 350 technical, service and administrative diplomas.

But too often the output of the lycees does not match the needs of the world of work. For example, industrial firms and the building trade face a shortage of trained employees while too many young people are looking for jobs in the service sectors.

In some areas, such as the deprived Parisian suburbs, there are no companies providing work experience for vocational pupils.

The new charter will be brought in progressively from September 2000. The curriculum will be revised in line with requirements of companies and the economy following consultations with employers' representatives. And vocational teachers will spend part of their own training in the workplace.

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