Now is the time for mostly 14 and 15-year-old students in 3ème in collège to decide what to do after their brevet exam. They have to choose – and opt on paper – between a Bac général, technologique or professionnel - or another vocational qualification, the CAP.
In March the conseil de classe will decide whether that choice is suitable for the pupil and parents will receive notification where they will have to make their final choice.
The majority of students choose to go on to study for a Bac général specialising in either the sciences (Bac S), economics (Bac ES) or literature (Bac L) after the first year in lycée. However, there are other options for pupils who want to start doing something other than studying academic subjects.
Education Minister Jean-Michel Blanquer recently said he wants more pupils to take up work-related qualifications. These qualifications have a poor image, which make families and pupils hesitant to take them up, Mr Blanquer said. He wants the content of these vocational courses to be improved so they are more in line with what modern employers are looking for.
The CAP and the Bac Professionnel can lead to a job straightaway or to further studies while the Bac général and technologique will require additional qualifications before employment. Bacs Technologiques are career-related, with emphasis on new skills.
Salomé Rekkas, 19, from Calviac, Dordogne, decided from the start to do a Bac technologique specialising in art and design, rather than a Bac général despite having good marks at school.
“I have always loved anything to do with art and I was really happy to discover there was a bac which would let me do what I enjoy doing the most.
“My teachers tried to persuade me to do a Bac S, but I am glad I did a Bac techno and I was lucky to have parents who backed my decision.
“I learnt so many new things and did subjects, like drawing and history of art, which I wouldn’t have done in a bac général. It helped me to choose which area of design I want to work in.”
There are eight technology bacs with names that can be confusing. These are:
• Bac ST2S – Sciences et technologies de la santé et du social. These are for students who want to become social workers or nurses.
• Bac STAV – Sciences et technologies de l’agronmie et du vivant – for pupils in agricultural lycées.
• Bac STD2A – Sciences et technologies du design et des arts appliqués – For pupils, like Salomé, who are interested in applied art such as fashion, architecture and design.
• Bac STL – Sciences et technologies de laboratoire – for pupils who like doing lab work which could lead to a career in health, environment, bio-industries, chemical industries, wine, perfume.
• Bac STMG – Sciences et technologies du management et de la gestion – leads to business, marketing, human relations etc.
• Bac STHR – Sciences et technologies de l’hôtellerie et de la restauration – for students interested in the tourist, hotel and restaurant industries.
CAPs are basic skilled working qualifications. The studies last two years. There are about 200 choices including agriculture, forestry, sports, textiles, hairdressing, plumbing, electronics and building.
Half the student’s time is taken up with academic subjects of which some are geared towards your speciality. The other half is related to your choice of subject and is often practical. Students also carry out 12 to 16 weeks on internships spread over the two years (the CAP agricole is slightly different).
After a CAP the student can look for a job or continue their studies, either by taking a second CAP course, or transferring to the the second year of a bac professionnel.
There are also qualifications for further specialisation in the chosen field; the BP (brevet professionnel), and BMA (brevet des métiers d’art) or a BTM (brevet technique des métiers).
A three-year Bac Professionnel allows students to go straight into a job or to continue studies. There are nearly 100 different subjects including training to be a baker, avionics, photography, fashion and several types of technician.
All Bac Pro students follow the same general academic studies including French, history-geography, maths, two foreign languages, applied arts and sport, plus around 16 hours related to their speciality. They will have 22 weeks of internship over the three years.
After a Bac Pro, about a quarter of the students go on to do a two-year BTS (brevet de technicien supérieur). For artistic and craft students there is the possibility of another two-year course, the DMA (diplôme des métiers d’art) for studies such as jewellery, graphic arts or instrument making for example. About 1%, go on to study for a DUT (diplôme universitaire de technologie).
There is also the option to undertake the Bac Pro and the CAP as an apprentice. Usually there will then be one week of lessons and two weeks with an employer. Students are paid between €367 and €1,144 a month according to their age and the year of the contract. You have to find your own employer so you have to start looking early.
For more details see the ONISEP guide Après la 3e rentrée 2017 at onisep.fr