Report Commissioned by Cedefop Using the Oecd Questionnaire

Report Commissioned by Cedefop Using the Oecd Questionnaire


review of career guidance POLICIES


France - July 2002

N.B The views expressed in this document are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect those of France or Cedefop.


J.P. Cartier (coordination), N. Baudouin, C. Dernaucourt, A. Dreux,
L. Lhotelier, M. Pouliot

Institut National d’Etude du Travail et d’Orientation Professionnelle (INETOP) &
the Centre Européen d’Etude et de Développement des Pratiques en Orientation (CEDEPRO).


In Autumn 2000, the OECD Education Committee and its Employment, Labour and Social Affairs Committee endorsed a new activity on policies for information, guidance and counselling services. The principal objective of the activity is to understand how the organisation, management and delivery of these services can help to advance some key public policy objectives: for example the provision of lifelong learning for all and active labour market policies.

The activity will gather information in several ways: through this questionnaire; through visits to participating countries by small teams of experts, in association with the OECD secretariat; through commissioned papers; and through meetings of national experts and policy-makers. The questionnaire thus forms an important part of the activity, and will provide important background and contextual material for the national visits. It asks about key policy issues in information, guidance and counselling services and about the types of policy initiatives that countries are taking. It seeks some basic information on how countries organise, manage and provide information, guidance and counselling services, in order that the context of policy initiatives can be better understood. It will provide a unique comparative database to help understand how countries differ in their approaches to information, guidance and counselling services and how they are trying to solve the challenges that they face. With the agreement of participating countries completed questionnaires will be available on the OECD website as a common resource for OECD countries.

Completing this questionnaire

It will be unlikely that any one organisation, Ministry or group will have all the information required to complete this questionnaire. National coordinators in participating countries are therefore asked to ensure collaboration between all relevant ministries, as well as the involvement of researchers, employers, trade unions, private sector organisations, and information, guidance and counselling professional associations in completing the questionnaire([1]). Forming a national steering committee might be one way in which this can be done.

Involving a number of stakeholders in the completion of the questionnaire could result in several perspectives being obtained for some questions. A key task of national coordinators will be to consolidate these different perspectives in order to provide the OECD secretariat with a single, integrated response.

In many cases countries will not have all the information asked for by the questionnaire. Where this is the case, countries are asked to answer it to the best of their ability, using the best available information. Countries are not expected to undertake original surveys or research in order to complete the questionnaire. Where the information needed to answer a question is not available, please indicate this in your response.

In completing the questionnaire, please try wherever possible to refer to the source(s) of any data: research articles, literature reviews, surveys, publications, administrative data and similar.

Where possible, please provide copies of key documents, particularly those in English or French.

Your responses to individual questions should not be lengthy. In general, please try to limit responses to each question to no more than one page. Additional information can be provided in annexes.

Countries should feel free to provide additional information, over and above the questions asked, where they feel that this would be helpful in increasing understanding of their national arrangements.

Countries with federal systems of government

Where countries have federal systems of government it will be important for the information provided to reflect differences between states or provinces, as well as differences that might exist between policies and practices adopted by the national government and state or provincial governments.

A key definition

The term ‘information, guidance and counselling services’ refers to services intended to assist individuals, of any age and at any point throughout their lives, to make educational, training and occupational choices and to manage their careers. It includes a wide range of activities. For example activities within schools to help students clarify career goals and understand the world of work; personal or group-based assistance with decisions about initial courses of study, courses of vocational training, further education and training, initial job choice, job change, or workforce re-entry; computer-based or on-line services to provide information about jobs and careers or to help individuals make career choices; and services to produce and disseminate information about jobs, courses of study and vocational training. It includes services provided to those who have not yet entered the labour force, services to jobseekers, and services to those who are employed.

The scope of this questionnaire

This questionnaire, and the OECD activity of which it is a part, focuses upon career information, guidance and counselling services: in other words services intended to assist individuals with their career management. These often overlap with other forms of personal services. Job placement, personal counselling, community-based personal mentoring, welfare advice and educational psychology are examples. Frequently these other services are delivered by people who also deliver career information, guidance and counselling. Where this overlap exists, please include these services when answering this questionnaire. However, where separate guidance services exist that do not provide career information, guidance and counselling, these separate services should be ignored when answering the questionnaire.

Organisation of the questionnaire

The questionnaire contains twelve sections:

1. Overview / 7. Delivery settings
2. Key goals, influences, issues and initiatives / 8. Delivery methods
3. Policy instruments for steering services / 9. Career information
4. The roles of the stakeholders / 10. Financing
5. Targeting and access / 11. Quality assurance
6. Staffing / 12. The evidence base


Here we would like a brief overview of arrangements for information, guidance and counselling services in your country.

1.1Please provide a brief (no more than one page) overview of national arrangements for career information, guidance and counselling services in your country.

In answering this please describe the principal service providers, and indicate the extent to which the provision of career information, guidance and counselling overlaps with or is integrated with other services. Indicate how responsibility both for managing and for funding information, guidance and counselling services is divided: between different ministries (for example Education and Labour); between different levels of government; and between governments and other providers. If possible, include as an annex the contact details and homepages of key players and main providers of services. (Note: questions that allow more detailed descriptions of services can be found elsewhere in the questionnaire).

Information, guidance and counselling services are extremely varied in France with the result that a complex range of services is offered to users. This has advantages: a wealth of different types of activities, a wide range of practices and practitioners, and a dense supply within France. It also has limits: some lack of coherence and coordination. Users consequently find it difficult to find their way around the various services which are difficult to evaluate and steer at national level. Relations between these services are sometimes difficult as everyone is keen to defend their own territory and identity. To summarise, France has no common system of lifelong guidance.

This wide range of information, guidance and counselling services has been shaped by differences in respect of the groups targeted (school pupils, young people, adults, the unemployed, women, the disabled), the types of service offered (individual counselling, skill audit, group or individual services, training, information), practitioners’ qualifications (counsellors, psychologists, teachers, information providers, social workers), the status of facilities (public, private, voluntary, commercial, professional) and financing (state, local authority, joint organisations, enterprises, users).

Although the state is currently tending to delegate, subcontract and outsource some work to the parapublic, voluntary and even private sectors, it nevertheless continues to be responsible for the majority of information, guidance and counselling services and for most of their financing.

Two ministries are involved in particular: the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Employment. Ministry of Youth, National Education and Research services are chiefly for the school population (secondary school and lycée pupils and students). Activities are organised in schools and outside schools in the CIOs (Centres d’information et d’orientation – Information and Guidance Centres). Most services are provided by specialist guidance counsellor/psychologists and by non-specialists: class teachers. The Ministry also supervises an important organisation producing information on education and occupations: ONISEP (Office National d’Information sur les Enseignements et les Professions – National Office for Information on Education and Occupations).

Ministry of Social Affairs, Employment and Solidarity services are geared more towards an adult public looking for jobs, redeployment, mobility or training. Activities are run in the National Employment Agencies (ANPE – Agences Nationales pour l’Emploi) which cover the whole of France and are managed by employment counsellors. The Ministry also supervises an organisation producing information on continuing training: the INFFO Centre.

This very brief review is nevertheless deceptive, since huge numbers of public and parapublic institutions, private agencies and different associations have appeared over the last twenty years. These include, for instance: the PAIO (Permanences d’Acceuil, d’Information, et d’Orientation – Permanent Reception, Information and Guidance Centres) and the ML (Missions Locales – Local Missions) for young people aged 16 to 25 facing problems of social and occupational integration; the CIBC (Centres interinstitutionnels de bilan de competences – Interinstitutional skill audit centres) for employees and jobseekers devising occupational or training plans; and private press agencies such as L’Etudiant (The Student) offering information for secondary school and university students.

Rather than listing all initiatives or drawing up a historic overview, it seems preferable to try to make some more general comments on recent trends in information, guidance and counselling services in France:

1) labour market trends, public needs, and government policies, especially those concerning the education and training system, have caused structures to become more specialised and concentrated in certain areas;

2) services have been delegated, in recent times, from central government to regional or even local authorities, paving the way for private or voluntary sector management of subcontracted services;

3) the Chambers (commerce, etc.) and employers’ professional organisations are playing an increasing part in information and guidance schemes for young people;

4) private information facilities are on the increase: press organisations, Internet sites, agencies organising fairs and forums;

5) large enterprises are demonstrating fresh interest in assistance with internal and external mobility (retraining, redeployment units) and private consultants in assistance with career management for managers (outplacement, coaching);

6) guidance tools and methods aimed particularly at young people and devised in France or adapted from North America are growing apace, although in some cases their theoretical foundations are somewhat questionable and they often have only a commercial vocation;

7) the quality and relevance of guidance schemes and practices is not felt to be very good and there is almost no supervision of practitioners;

8) university theoretical and scientific thinking is fairly advanced and booming in the area of guidance and integration;

9) the various information, guidance and counselling practitioners differ in terms of their backgrounds, status, wages, approaches, points of references and activities, the only common point being the large number of women in the profession;

10) there has been a rather worrying upturn in the number of practitioners with little or no theoretical or practical training who are often unaware of ethical issues and the codes of conduct of their profession;

11) it is proving difficult to develop interinstitutional structures (for instance ‘one-stop-shops’) where users can consult a full range of organisations in one place and to set up a national umbrella system for practitioners.


Here we would like you to provide information about the broad goals for information, guidance and counselling services, about the influences that are shaping these services, about the key issues in their organisation, management and delivery, and about important recent initiatives.

2.2 What are the key objectives and goals of national policies for information, guidance and counselling services in your country? Please describe differences in objectives and goals that might exist between ministries. Where a legislative basis exists for these objectives and goals, please provide details.

The key objectives and goals of national policies for information, guidance and counselling can be summarised by eight main points:

1) providing everyone with the same quality of information and counselling, by ensuring that services are available throughout France: the CIOs and ANPE are to be found in all Prefectures, sub-Prefectures and large towns. The services available are free of charge or subsidised;

2) producing information media (files, brochures, CD-ROMs) with a major concern for objectivity, in order to describe training schemes and occupations and to make them more accessible to everyone, and distributing them in schools and universities, agencies, town halls, information points, the Internet, etc. Some media are also distributed free of charge;

3) attempting to introduce a genuine right to information and counselling on a par with a right to vocational qualification, in particular for school pupils, young people looking for jobs and jobseekers;

4) proposing measures for specific target groups to prevent problems of exclusion: young people facing major problems at school, women wanting to return to work, young people from disadvantaged areas, the disabled, the long-term unemployed, etc.

5) diversifying guidance for girls and women by encouraging them to look at training options and careers in sectors dominated by men;

6) promoting parapublic, voluntary and employers’ initiatives in the area of information and guidance for young people and adults;

7) developing, among both young people and adults, collective and educative approaches in the area of counselling and guidance which are less individually-based and prescriptive (for instance jobseeking techniques, guidance education, self-awareness, etc.);

8) making the public and the social actors more aware of the issue of lifelong guidance and its corollaries: certification though validation of experience, skill audits, continuing training, occupational mobility and employability.

2.3 What are the major social, educational and labour market influences that are currently shaping national policies for information, guidance and counselling services?

Information, guidance and counselling measures are seen politically as both a public and a private good. The public authorities’ main concern is to ensure social equity in access to the various services; measures in this respect have gone as far as stepping up services for people with problems. A second concern is more economic and based on the notion that better use can be made of human capital by facilitating synergies between users’ aspirations and labour market needs. A third concern is more educational: to help men and women to develop, from adolescence onwards, the ability to obtain guidance throughout life so that they are better able to cope with periods of transition and uncertainty and thus become more independent.

2.4 What are the most important issues facing policy-makers in your country in the organisation, management and delivery of information, guidance and counselling services?

The main problems encountered by policy-makers in the organisation, management and delivery of services have much to do with the very wide-ranging nature of the information, guidance and counselling supply in France. This wide range of services goes together with a multiplicity of decision-makers and funding agencies: public authorities, local and regional authorities, joint bodies such as unemployment benefit funds, social economy organisations, employers’ organisations, private agencies, etc. It is therefore extremely difficult to find any synergies or introduce any networking. For instance:

1)In the area of financial management

In the case of the public authorities, there are two ministries, one for education and one for labour, which are together responsible for most services. Another Ministry, which existed before the current government was formed, called Youth and Sports, also offered information and guidance services in all regions: the CIDJ (Centres d’Information et de Documentation Jeunesse – Youth Information and Documentation Centres).

In the case of education, the state is responsible for staff pay and management: teachers’ allowances and the pay of guidance counsellor/psychologists, and facilities (information and guidance centres) are funded by both Departments (General Councils) and the state.

In the case of employment, ANPE schemes are funded by both the state and joint bodies (unemployment benefit funds).

Lastly, some facilities, such as those for young people, may be run under the auspices of the public education services, for instance the MGI (Mission Générale d’Insertion – General Integration Mission) or local and/or regional authorities, in some cases with state subsidies, such as the PAIO and ML. Other facilities for adults, such as the CIBC, may receive funding from the state, local authorities, joint bodies and private enterprises.