Our guide to everything you need to know about vocational executive education

24 Sep 2020


You are an employee and would like to upgrade your skills in order to specialise within your company or retrain? You can follow a vocational training course. How long does vocational training last? How do you apply? What are its objectives? What funding is available? In this article, we tell you all about the different vocational training courses and your rights.

What is vocational training?

Vocational training is training for the working population. The request for training may come from your employer, if they want you to develop and gain skills, or from you, if you want to diversify your skills or change jobs. In all cases, it consists of reinforcing your knowledge, updating your skills or acquiring new ones. Vocational training or executive education is a right for all working people and is enshrined in the french law. It can be carried out in your company, at a distance or in an external training organisation. There are different vocational training courses and several types of funding for adult vocational training.

What are the objectives of vocational training?

The objectives of vocational training are varied. Executive education can make it possible to:

  • To gain skills in order to evolve within one's company and to access a higher position (it allows one to train in a company or in an organisation instead of or in addition to a VAE).
  • To learn a new specific skill (this is often the case when a company diversifies or has to align itself with new laws or standards in force and has to teach its employees new knowledge).
  • To train to learn a new trade in order to retrain.
  • To train during a period of unemployment to increase their chances of finding a job.
  • To train as part of a security plan (for employees dismissed for economic reasons who wish to find a job quickly and under good conditions) or to return to work.

What are the different types of vocational training?

There are many types of vocational training. They depend on the objective of the applicant and the desired field of training. Many programmes allow you to learn a new trade by preparing various diplomas. CAP, BEP and professional baccalaureate can be taught. It is also possible to follow higher education courses, such as the Bachelor's degree, or short qualifying courses.

However, vocational training is not always leading to a diploma; there are also shorter courses to learn to master a software, a tool or a very specific skill. These courses may last only a few days or a few weeks. They are sometimes carried out within the company itself, thanks to the presence of an external teacher. Vocational training can be provided in different ways: distance learning, face-to-face training or apprenticeship.

A wide range of fields is offered in France. The most popular training courses are those in the fields of languages, health, social work, secretarial work, early childhood and office automation. Some organisations offer training in more specific fields, such as inclusive management, energy transition, entrepreneurship or Corporate Social Responsibility.

How to benefit from vocational training?

Application for funding for vocational training can be made on the initiative of the employee, an employer or a Pôle emploi adviser. The price of training courses varies according to the certification sought, the field of training and its duration. The cost of executive education can be covered by various schemes:


The Compte Personnel de Formation (formerly known as the Droit Individuel à la Formation or DIF) allows employees to contribute an amount of €500 per year, up to a maximum of €5,000 in total, to finance their training. They can choose to use it whenever they wish. However, the employee will have to provide proof of one year's activity within the same company and be on a permanent contract. The chosen training can be carried out outside working hours. In this case, the employee does not have to take any steps with their employer, but is not paid. They can have their training request validated by a career development advisor. If the employee wishes to take part in a training course during working hours, he must contact his employer and ask for permission at least 60 calendar days before the start of the training course, if it is less than 6 months in duration. If it is longer than 6 months, the employee must apply for permission at least 120 days before the start of the training. In all cases, the employer has 30 days in which to respond. If the answer is not given within this period, the employee may consider that his or her training request has been accepted. One thing you should know: if you have contributed hours to the DIF, you must postpone these hours until 31/12/2020. After this deadline, they will be unusable.


Le projet de transition professionnelle (ancien Congé Individuel de Formation) est un congé permettant aux salariés, qu’ils soient en contrat d’apprentissage, de professionnalisation, en CDD ou en CDI, de bénéficier d’un nombre d’heures annuelles consacrées à la formation. Ce financement peut être demandé dans le but d’évoluer, de gagner en qualification ou d’effectuer une reconversion professionnelle. Le salarié doit justifier de 24 mois d’ancienneté (continue ou non), dont 12 mois dans la même entreprise, peu importe la nature des contrats successifs. Pour obtenir ce financement, le salarié doit déposer une demande auprès d’une association Transitions Pro ou de la commission paritaire interprofessionnelle régionale. Il est également dans l’obligation de prévenir son employeur de son absence par écrit 60 jours avant le début de la formation pour une absence inférieure ou égale à 6 mois, et 120 jours avant une absence supérieure à 6 mois.

The professional transition project (formerly known as Congé Individuel de Formation) is a leave of absence allowing employees, whether they are on an apprenticeship contract, a professional training contract, a fixed-term or permanent contract, to benefit from a number of hours per year devoted to training. This funding may be requested in order to progress, to gain qualifications or to carry out a professional reconversion. The employee must prove 24 months of seniority (continuous or not), including 12 months in the same company, regardless of the type of the successive contracts. To obtain this funding, the employee must submit an application to a Transitions Pro association or to the regional joint interprofessional commission. He is also obliged to notify his employer in writing 60 days before the start of the training course for an absence of up to 6 months, and 120 days before an absence of more than 6 months.