Workers in France to pay €100 towards previously free training

Reforms to the compte personnel de formation are expected to result in 20% of trainees abandoning their courses

Charging workers a set fee of €100 per course could save the state €375m a year

Workers will soon have to contribute €100 from their own pocket to fund previously ‘free’ training as France comes under pressure to cut spending.

The change relates to the compte personnel de formation (CPF) – a system set up in 2019 allowing workers to earn credits worth up to €500 per year (up to a maximum of €5,000) which can be spent on training.

Training is meant to be work related

Tales abound of people using their CPF to fund, for example, private pilot’s licences or photography courses.

Indeed, opening up the scheme to all forms of training for vehicles requiring a licence led to 7,000 people signing up for motorbike tuition. 

Before that, CPF could only be used for car, lorry or bus licences.

Self-employed workers also qualify, although their options are more limited.

Read more: Are freelancers entitled to France's professional training credits?

A contribution of €100 per course

A first attempt to rein in the scheme last year caused uproar in parliament.

Initially, the plan was to make workers contribute 10% of the cost of their training, but in March this was changed to a fixed fee of €100 per course.

The government recognised that for long and costly training courses, for example to change jobs or retrain, asking for a percentage could be expensive and dissuade the least well-paid workers from doing it, which would be counter-productive.

Read more: How can I learn ‘business French’ to improve job prospects?

Apprenticeship grants expected to be cut

French media outlets report that the contribution will probably be implemented from May 1. 

It is set to save the government more than €250 million in 2024 and €375 million over a full year, ie. in 2025. 

Unemployed people, who account for 30% of CPF spending, will not contribute.

It is estimated that 20% of workers are likely to abandon a training course at the prospect of having to pay the contribution.

The €100 charge represents 6.4% of the average cost of training via a CPF, which is €1,560. 

Apprentices are also in the firing line, with centres de formation d’apprentis expected to have €200 million cut from the grants they receive.