Native English speakers looking to hone their business skills or to hand down career expertise are in demand in France from business schools and social enterprises alike.
Some MBAs are all in English
A representative from the Conservatoire national des arts et métiers (Cnam) and the head of an intercultural mentoring scheme both told The Connexion that applications from anglophones are not only welcome, but actively encouraged.
Emmanuelle Rochefort, external relations manager at Cnam and in charge of several international master’s programmes in business studies, said English speakers are the “target audience”. Some of the courses are all in English.
Expatriates are small portion of students
Ms Rochefort said that as well as attracting international students, people from anglophone countries who are resident in France are also desirable as they already know the country.
She said the number of applications from international students has increased since the Covid pandemic, with many students coming from English-speaking African nations.
While Cnam’s programmes are open to people above 50, expatriates make up only a very small percentage of students.
Business schools offer flexibility
Ms Rochefort explained that there are several marked differences between business schools in France compared to ones in countries such as the UK and US, including the status in which they are held.
“When you want to enrol in an executive MBA in France,” Ms Rochefort said, “you already assume going to a business school rather than a top-ranked university.”
Another key difference is price.
Cnam’s executive MBA costs from €18,000 to €21,000, which she says is approximately a third the cost of an equivalent course at the highly-selective ‘grande école’ HEC Paris or a British or American university.
The courses also offer flexible timetables and are open to people juggling their studies with jobs.
Cnam is renowned for accommodating students on cours du soir or part-time lessons.
Volunteers wanted to help younger immigrants
Business schools are not the only institutions making efforts to attract English-speakers living abroad – this demographic is also highly sought-after as job coaches on mentoring schemes for recent arrivals in the country.
Constance Colliot is head of the Lille office of Duo for a Job, a Belgian association created in 2013 to tackle high unemployment rates among young immigrants.
She said: “We are looking for people willing to share their immigration experience of France and provide helpful advice to younger generations.”
The association expanded into France, with offices in Paris, Marseille and Lille and a new one scheduled to open in Lyon next year.
Full training given
Duo for a Job connects volunteer mentors above the age of 50 with young immigrants, from 18 to 33, through a training scheme aimed at helping the migrant navigate the French administrative system and language barriers to find a job.
Mentors themselves are required to complete a training programme first.
This can be done over four days or in 10 two-hour sessions.
It addresses three main topics: raising awareness of intercultural communication; deconstructing clichés around immigration; and integration into the workplace.
Nine out of ten mentors return
Mentors work with their students for around two to three hours a week, for a minimum of six months.
So far, the association has recruited more than 1,600 mentors and says seven out of 10 young people go on to find a job, an internship or training.
Its website says that nine out of 10 mentors repeat the experience.
Mentors are predominantly women (61%) and mostly aged from 60 to 64 and working in the HR industry, according to figures provided to us.
Just over half (52%) are active professionals.
Duo for a Job is particularly keen to recruit mentors with professional experience in cleaning, architecture, urban planning and energy industries.
Pass on knowledge
The social project says the advantages of volunteering are numerous, from staying connected and active, feeling useful by passing on knowledge, to learning new skills.
While no previous coaching experience is required, Ms Colliot said mentors need a solid level of French.
Having a good grasp of the country’s administrative systems is also a strong advantage.