Registering a young person in the intermediate or higher cycle of public secondary technical education

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The intermediate and higher cycle of secondary technical education aims to have students learn a profession and prepare for the higher education cycle. In some cases, this level entails completing a practical component at a company under an apprenticeship contract, and attending courses at a technical college.

At the end of the 9th class, students receive guidance counselling based on their academic performance in the lower cycle of secondary technical education (enseignement secondaire technique - EST) as to whether to pursue technical or vocational training in various areas: agricultural, artisanal, commercial, hospitality and tourism, industrial, domestic, paramedical and social.

Schooling is mandatory up to 16 years of age. A student who turns 15 and can begin an apprenticeship satisfies the schooling obligation by attending vocational courses at the same time (practical training with an employer combined with theory-based training at the secondary school).

The intermediate and higher cycles of the EST comprise 3 distinct systems and are spread out over a number of different years depending on the chosen career path (between 2 and 5 years):

  • the technical system (10th-13th, 14th for health and social service professions), which culminates with a technical diploma;
  • the technician training system (10th-13th), which leads to a technician's diploma;
  • the vocational system (10th-12th), which culminates with a vocational aptitude diploma (diplôme d'aptitude professionelle - DAP) or a certificate of vocational ability (certificat de capacité professionnelle - CCP).

Who is concerned

  • EST technical system: for students who, after theory-based learning in 9th class, wish to acquire extensive technical, theoretical and practical training;
  • EST technician system: for students who, after theoretical or general study in 9th class, wish to acquire both theory-based and practical vocational training;
  • EST professional system: for students who, after the 9th class (most often a practical class) and during a 2-3-year training program, are seeking to directly obtain a vocational qualification.

Prerequisites

  • In order to gain access to the technical system, the student must have successfully completed a theory-based 9th class, following the guidance of the steering committee. Furthermore, depending on the divisions chosen, students must meet certain criteria for specific admission to the chosen division – particularly in relation to the annual grades obtained;
  • In order to gain access to the technical system, the student must have successfully completed a theory-based or general 9th class, following the guidance of the steering committee. A student who holds a vocational skills certificate (CATP) or a DAP belonging to the same family of professions may also be accepted into the 12th technical training class. Students must also, depending on the divisions chosen, meet certain specific admission criteria – particularly in regard to the annual grades obtained;
  • In order to get an apprenticeship while working towards a DAP (vocational system – introductory vocational training), the student must have successfully completed a 9th class (theoretical, general or practical), whereas the condition for granting of a CCP (vocational system – basic vocational training) only entails completion of the mandatory schooling.

How to proceed

Terms of registration for 10th class

At the end of the 9th theory, general or practical class, the student decides, based on the guidance received, which training program they will pursue in the next study cycle. Registration is not automatic: the student must complete their own registration for the 10th year (start of the intermediate cycle) – for example during the registration days held around mid-July.

The student must provide the following documents when submitting their application:

  • a registration form to be obtained from the secretary's office of the chosen secondary school;
  • the 9th class report cards;
  • the guidance received from the steering committee;
  • an extract of their birth certificate (to be requested from the communal administration).
Even if the student remains at their original secondary school, they must register to ensure a place is held for them.

To find out which secondary schools offer the chosen training program, it is useful to:

  • contact the secondary school to learn about the divisions offered;
  • obtain information from the Psycho-Social and School Assistance Department (Service psycho-social et d'accompagnement scolaires - SePAS) at the secondary school.

If the student has decided to pursue vocational training under an apprenticeship contract, they should contact the Vocational Guidance Department (Service de l'orientation professionnelle) of the National Employment Agency (Agence pour le développement de l'emploi - ADEM). They must sign an apprenticeship contract with the company or master craftsman/woman, and also register for additional courses at a technical high school.

Specific features of the 3 EST systems

Technical system


The technical system culminates with the secondary school technical diploma.

It consists of 3 divisions:

  • administrative and commercial;
  • general technical;
  • social service and health professions.

It includes 4 or 5 years of training (10th and 11th class of the intermediate cycle and 12th and 13th, or even 14th class of the higher cycle for social service and health professions). It provides access to higher and university education.

Technician training system

The technician training system culminates with a technician's diploma.

It consists of the following 3 divisions:

  • administrative and commercial;
  • agricultural;
  • artistic;
  • chemical;
  • electrotechnical;
  • civil engineering;
  • hotel and tourism;
  • computer science;
  • mechanics;
  • health and social service professions;
  • building equipment.

This extends to the 10th and 11th classes in the intermediate cycle and to the 12th and 13th classes in the higher cycle. This system primarily prepares students for the world of work. Students may take further, higher-level technical education in their chosen field of speciality.

Vocational system

Vocational diploma

In the vocational system, the 12th class or the 3-year apprenticeship culminates with the following certificates:

  • the DAP, issued upon completion of the introductory vocational training program. Holders of this certificate may continue their training to obtain a Master Craftsman's certificate (brevet de maîtrise) which allows them to work as a master craftsman;
  • the CCP, issued upon completion of basic vocational training, which offers a simplified version of the DAP program, especially in terms of theory-based training. It allows the holder to enter the workforce or to move into an introductory vocational training program.

Courses in the professional system are divided into modules.

Terms of registration for an apprenticeship with an employer

Around the beginning of the school year before an apprenticeship would begin, the student must contact the ADEM Vocational Guidance Department.

This ADEM department, and more specifically the Beruffsinformatiouns-Zentrum (BIZ), will provide students with all of the necessary information: open positions, apprenticeship terms, status on the job market, etc. If the student has not yet decided which profession to learn, they may also contact a guidance counsellor at the ADEM to schedule an interview.

Generally, the Vocational Guidance Department provides students with a list of businesses or master craftsmen seeking an apprentice. Students then individually schedule a meeting with one of these employer/mentors. If approved, they return to the ADEM, which provides them with the documents relating to the apprenticeship contract with their future mentor. The student must also register to simultaneously take classes at a technical college.

Apprenticeship contracts must be signed before 1 April, or more generally 1 October (last date to begin an apprenticeship).

Important dates when looking for an apprenticeship

Start of the school year before the apprenticeship

Consulting with the ADEM Vocational Guidance Department

End of school year (mid-July)

Presentation of the necessary documents to the Vocational Guidance Department to receive a letter of assignment for the training company, as well as a certificate for the technical college

Mid-September

Start of alternating courses

1 October

Last date to begin an apprenticeship

Who to contact

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