For more than nine centuries Les Compagnons du Devoir have been providing high quality training for young people in a variety of manual trades. Our training offers both traditional apprenticeships and higher level skills training. Trainees move between workplaces all over France and also abroad, learning a trade but also about themselves, through experience of different people and cultures. All our trainees are expected to travel abroad so we also welcome young people coming to train in France.
Employers working with Les Compagnons du Devoir have an opportunity to employ skilled and reliable trainees, with varying levels of expertise. Our young people bring energy, flexibility and a cross cultural perspective. Les Compagnons du Devoir also provide bespoke in house training packages for existing employees.
We are a national vocational training provider, established according to the French Association Act of 1901 and recognised as a public benefit organisation. Our training helps our students achieve excellence in one of 30 trades from initial qualifications to degree level.
Mobility and the transmission of know-how are the foundations of compagnonship. Since the 13th century, journeymen have been traveling and adapting their knowledge to new techniques and materials. Thus, over time, the compagnonship has seen trades disappear and others born.
The formation of our association more than 70 years ago made it possible to develop a network of houses to accommodate the itinerants of all trades under one roof: before the Second World War, each professional body of the Compagnons had its places of passage and organized for his own account the accommodation of his itinerants. For 70 years, community life has enabled successful inter-professional exchanges.
In the early 1970s, an important second step for our association was the decision to develop a pool of apprentices by creating and developing our own apprenticeship training centers. Then in the 1990s, we decided to enrich our professional experiences by developing the international journey.
More recently, a new stage was reached with the arrival of young women in trades that were mainly practiced by men. Then the beginning of the twenty-first century saw the arrival of baccalaureate holders; They constitute today the majority of young people who choose to train and graduate with us. In 2010, the compagnonship was inscribed by UNESCO on the list of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.
The admission of our association to The Conference of “Grandes Écoles" marked the recognition of the human and professional values that we have always defended. The Conference of “Grandes Écoles", is a French national institution, created in 1973, that represents not only all the engineering establishments that can award advanced postgraduate degrees in engineering, generally obtained after five to seven years of studies after the French Baccalaureate, but also all the business which deliver a Master's degree.
In 2017 the Compagnons du devoir gained the ISO 9001 qualification. This is an international standard that specifies requirements for a quality management system (QMS). Organizations use the standard to demonstrate the ability to consistently provide products and services that meet customer and regulatory requirements.
In France Les Compagnons du Devoir operate 40 training centres (part of a network of 80 hostel) across the country where we provide initial training for apprentices in our 30 trades. The apprenticeship is a 2-3 year course where students alternate between 6 weeks working with their employers, and 2 weeks full-time residential training at our centres. During the 2-week block, students are living and working alongside qualified and experienced “journeymen” (see below). On completion students receive a recognised qualification in their chosen trade.
We also provide higher level training for qualified tradespeople. This is based on a “journeyman” model where the trainee hones their skills, travelling from town to town, working in different companies during the day, while living in one of our 80 houses. In each house the “journeyman” has the opportunity for professional instruction and support in the evenings and at weekends from experienced colleagues in the network. This includes access to classrooms and workshops. The house also provides the journeyman with accommodation in a community environment.
During this Journey, the trainees are expected to work for at least one year in a foreign country. This obliges them to broaden their horizons, discover a new culture and learn a new language. During this year the trainees can charter their progress buy using our online training platform “Aquisav”.
All our training in France is open to young people applying from any country in the world and from any ethnic or cultural background.
Our training centres also have the facilities to provide bespoke training either for individuals wanting to develop their skills, or for companies requiring in-house training for their employees.
Training with Les Compagnons du Devoir offers lifelong membership of an association of tradespeople. This network provides opportunities for ongoing professional development, either in technical skills or related areas such as business development and management. The association is both across trades and within trades. Each trade is always looking at ways of encouraging innovation and technology, seeking to anticipate future developments.
Some key figures
- More than 10 000 apprentices in training
- More than 3 000 young professionals improving their skills on the Tour de France, 400 of them abroad
- 90% of the apprentices have a job after their training
- 88% success rate in initial training exams thanks to our personalized tutoring
- 84% of the apprentices still work in their trade 5 years after their initial training
- More than 8 500 employees per year trained in France
A network of 38 000 partner companies
Apprentices training with us in France have a short 3-week work placement abroad as part of their basic training. Most of these placements take place in Europe but have also been as far afield as Russia or Canada. We are always open to exploring new links in other countries.
As part of the “journeyman” curriculum, trainees spend at least a year working abroad, to develop their knowledge and understanding of other cultures, languages and work environments. Trainees also have the opportunity to participate in our specialised international training courses.
Our extensive network of international partnerships is supported by an international administrative department, located in Paris, with national co-ordinators currently based in the UK, Germany, Switzerland and Belgium. We also provide audits and tailored training to wide range of international companies.