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Drop-outs are given another chance;Briefing;International

FRANCE

Thousands of school drop-outs are being offered a second opportunity to re-enter the education system and gain a vocational qualification.

Schools, businesses and regional authorities will join forces to provide training for unqualified young people under the Nouvelles Chances (New Chances) programme.

The number of pupils leaving school annually with no qualifications has fallen from 110,000 a decade ago to 57,000, 8 per cent of the age group, but there has been no reduction over the past three years.

An inquiry which followed the progress of unqualified job seekers found they suffered higher unemployment than those with a minimum vocational qualification such as a CAP (certificate of vocational aptitude).

After five years 38 per cent had no work, double the number with a minimum qualification.

The scheme aims to encourage all young people to finish school with at least a basic vocational certificate and to encourage those who have dropped out to return or to follow a course combining workplace training with education.

Among options are special classes in which pupils taught in small groups can catch up with such skills as literacy and maths. Local education services and youth information centres will offer young people guidance on available courses, and vocational lycees will work out tailor-made programmes for pupils with problems.

Education minister Claude All gre also stressed the need for partnerships between the education service and business, to provide training and work experience for young people during their vocational studies.

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