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Improvements in workforce qualifications: Britain and France 1979-88.


It is now widely recognised in advanced industrialised countries that ability to exploit technological innovation competitively is dependent upon the levels of skill available in the working population. In the early 1960s, both France and Britain took steps to remedy the problem of levels of craft and technician-level skills which were inferior to those of Germany. In the intervening twenty years, these intermediate skill levels have become increasingly important, in particular for manufacturing efficiency as micro-electronic control equipment and the efficient logistical organisation of production demand a new and wider range of technical services to maximise machinery utilisation and to combine it with the satisfaction of more sophisticated consumer requirements.

This note assesses the level of formal vocational qualification of the labour-force in Britain and France in 1979 and, a decade later, in 1988 on the basis of comparable national surveys of the labour-force in the two countries (Labour Force Survey 1979, 1988 for Britain, Recensement 1968 and 1982 and Enquete sur L'Emploi 1988 for France) and examines differing national approaches to raising qualification levels. France and Britain faced similar problems of substantial proportions of the work force with no educational or vocational qualifications at the end of the 1960s. France chose to follow a more focused and centrally-directed policy to raise levels of vocational qualifications through the national education system. Britain persisted in keeping vocational education and training out of the education system and in relying on employers to continue to provide vocational training for manufacturing. This note evaluates the outcome of these two approaches. It will be concerned, in Section 1 with the workforce as a whole, and in Section 2, with three main sub-divisions: foremen, technicians and shopfloor employees in manufacturing.

1. Stocks of qualifications: Britain and France 1979,1988

In 1979, a third of the French working population held intermediate vocational qualifications compared to just under a quarter in Britain, while a smaller proportion of the French workforce held degrees. By 1988, the French position relative to Britain had changed considerably. In Britain, numbers holding general educational qualifications, particularly at lower level (GCE O-Level, CSE), had increased by fifty per cent, while stocks of intermediate vocational qualifications in the labour force showed hardly any increase; in France, over the same period, the percentage holding vocational qualifications increased substantially from a higher base (by one quarter), while the proportion holding general educational qualifications (without vocational qualifications) remained below that of vocational qualifications. In both countries, proportions holding degrees increased with the larger increase registered in Britain. (Table 1). In Britain, a decade which has witnessed the largest number of government training initiatives both for young people and for adults has so far shown considerably lower growth than France of stocks of vocational qualifications in the labour-force. France, on the other hand, has progressed from a level (similar to Britain in the early 1970s) of having less than half the stock of vocational qualifications of Germany to being two-thirds of the way towards the German level in 1988; France, with 40 per cent at intermediate level now (1988) lies roughly half-way between Britain (26 per cent) and Germany (64 per cent).

These results require us to look carefully at differences between the two countries' policies towards the training of young people-an important factor contributing to changes in stocks of qualifications in the labour-force.

Flows of vocationally-qualified young people in

Britain and France

Patterns of flows of vocationally-qualified young people in Britain relative to other advanced industrialised countries have been documented in previous work carried out by the National institute. in brief, over the period, under half of all of 16 year old school leavers chose to remain in full-time school or to proceed to further education. Of those who left school, few had attainments in basic subjects which could constitute the foundation for further on the job training to recognised skill levels, and for many in full-time employment such training was not available. Such skills as were acquired (mostly on the government-financed Youth Training Scheme) were at levels below internationally recognised minimum standards-City and Guilds Part II or BTEC National Level, (NVQ Level III). As a consequence, the flows of young people obtaining recognised craft qualifications in major occupations in manufacturing in Britain hardly changed in the 12 year period to 1987 while in France and Germany numbers increased by 50 per cent and 30 per cent respectively. (2)

Earlier National Institute studies have examined in detail the differences between French and British provision of initial vocational education and training. (3) The reluctance of French employers-particularly large industrial employers to train adequate numbers of young people in general skills led the French government to provide initial vocational education and training within the public education system. The products of this system cover the whole spectrum of skill from craft-trained worker to doctoral engineer and constitute the major source of initial skill formation.

Since 1971, the law compelling firms to devote 1.1 per cent of their payroll to the training of their employees has also played a part in helping to raise qualification levels. However, in terms of formal vocational qualifications obtained, the role of formation continue (continuing training) remains small. in 1984 barely 5 per cent of all CAP awards were obtained by adult employees using this route rather than through full-time initial training.

During the period in question, it was clearly easier for the French government to expand the supply of training places (subject to certain rigidities resulting from the skills of teachers in post, infrastructure etc) than it was for British governments to influence the British employer-based training system to expand the training provided for young people. It was also easier to monitor and maintain an agreed standard of vocational qualification when most trainees were trained in educational institutions (as in France) than where trainees were distributed widely over a large number of work places, many with no experience of training (as in Britain for the Youth Opportunities Programme (YOP) and the Youth Training Scheme (YTS))

Planning for skills in France

Since the 1960s, French educational policy-makers have been encouraged to develop provision for education and vocational training within the overall objectives for economic growth set out in successive economic plans.

In the immediate post-war period in France a series of economic plans were drawn up to indicate the rate and type of economic growth that the government considered optimal. These plans guided the broad thrust of government legislation and investment; at no time were they more than indicative of directions to be followed. The Fifth Plan for 1966-70 was informed by awareness of the handicap imposed on French industrial and commercial development by an education system which had evolved to meet the needs of a predominantly agricultural society (in 1966 70 per cent of the population had no vocational qualifications or only a primary school leaving certificate). The 1966 Plan concentrated on the need to reduce this figure and stated as its objective that only 20 per cent of an age cohort should leave school in 1970 with no or low qualification levels, with 50 per cent at the next higher level craft). Such proposals seemed ambitious at a time when over fifty per cent of a cohort left school with no recognised educational qualifications. Nevertheless, the resolve to raise qualification levels, particularly of the least well-qualified, was reiterated in the Sixth Plan 197G-5 which stated, as one of its twenty-five objectives that of doubling between 1970 and 1975 the extent of post-school education and to reach the point where no child left the educational system without sufficient general education combined with the rudiments of vocational training.

A whole series of legislative measures were undertaken in the 1970S creation of a higher qualification at craft level (the BEP) from 1968 onwards, the creation of pre-apprenticeship classes in secondary schools and the reform of apprenticeships, full recognition of the technical Baccalaureat and the creation of the University Institutes of Technology). The overriding aim was to raise numbers leaving education with some form of vocational qualification and particularly to increase the proportion with intermediate technical and commercial skills. The objective of the 1966 plan was attained in 1976 when only 19.6 per cent of school leavers left without at least completing a three-year (14-17) course of combined education and vocational training in a full-time vocational school; in 1986 the proportion was 15.1.(5) The expansion of vocational training places in


A combination of clear educational objectives, centralised national administration of educational resources, nationally-recognised certification and the full-time provision of initial training within the education system enabled the French to expand the supply of vocational training places-from 212 thousand pupils in the final year of full-time craft level courses in 1971, to 281 thousand in 1980 and 318 thousand in 1985. However, it is not obvious that any greater control could be exercised over demand from young people for vocational education and training after the completion of compulsory schooling than was the case in Britain. Nevertheless, participation rates of 16-18 year olds in full-time education (including full-time vocational education) in France were considerably higher, 71 per cent in 1987 compared to 31 per cent in Britain, in the same year.

It is beyond the scope of this report to analyse reasons for higher participation rates of young people in full-time education beyond the end of compulsory education at 16 in France. Labour market factors (relative youth wages and higher youth unemployment) demographic factors (higher post-war birth rates) and cultural factors have all played a part. However, it is important to note that the earliest age at which nationally recognised qualifications can normally be awarded in France is 17 - and the course in question, the CAP (craft level) may be entered upon at age 14 or 15, before the end of compulsory education at 16.

Differences in the ages at which recognised school-leaving qualifications are awarded in the two countries help to explain differential leaving rates. In Britain the CSE and GCE O-Level (growth in academic educational qualifications has particularly been concentrated on the former) are normally awarded at 16, and are widely recognised by British employers since they are the main indicators of employment potential; in France only a small proportion leave at 16 with the French qualification equivalent to GCSE (the BEPC), a majority of French 16 year olds are already preparing for the vocationally-oriented CAP (taken at age 17) and the BEP or Baccalaureat taken at age 18 and 19 respectively and judge it worthwhile to take one or two more years to complete the course after the end of compulsory education. Many of the French 16-18 year olds who stay on to work for these recognised vocational and educational qualifications do so because the advantages in terms of jobs and salary can be clearly judged from employers' behaviour. This first level of vocational qualification (CAP, BEP) equivalent to NVQ Level ill, is widely recognised by employers to the extent that recognition of the CAP and of higher level vocational certificates and diplomas is written into Collective Agreements negotiated by employers and trade unions. Under these agreements, the holder of a relevant CAP qualification is normally entitled to be paid at a higher point on the agreed salary scale than an employee with no vocational qualifications.(61

Because the CAP leads to an attestation of professional competence recognised by employers, standards are rigorously maintained. Average pass-rates remain around 60 per cent. These are group' examinations, rather than single-subject examinations. Many leave without the CAP certificate although they have passed all the practical examinations of purely professional competence but have failed in their academic subjects. This contrasts with British willingness to count as qualified' a school-leaver with a single CSE or O-Level pass. If the rigorous criteria applied by the French were applied to British qualifications, that is, if we counted those who had passed their written tests and excluded those who had only' served their time', only about 19 per cent of the British active population (instead of the 26 per cent shown in table 1) would be considered vocationally qualified at intermediate level.(7) This should be borne in mind when considering the higher French percentage with 'no qualifications'. Since this group contains all those who studied for but failed to obtain a CAP, many would be considered 'qualified' according to the British definition-which includes those who have completed an apprenticeship but not obtained any vocational qualifications. The rationing' of general educational qualifications: consequences in France and Britain

How does the pattern of growth in qualifications in France compare with that in Britain? This question can be better understood by examining average annual percentage growth rates of the different categories of qualifications obtained by French school leavers aged 16 and over during the ten-year period 1976-86. While numbers obtaining general educational qualifications grew by only 1 per cent per annum in this period, numbers obtaining the lower-level vocational qualification (CAP) increased by 4 per cent and higher level technical qualifications by 6 per cent. it should be noted that these growth rates relate to increases in flows of young people with vocational qualifications and not to the growth of stocks of qualifications in the labour-force. Flows contribute to the growth of stocks but are not the sole determinant).

Are these differences in growth rates the result of greater popularity of vocational and technical courses among French 16 year olds or has the French educational structure played a part in the differential growth in numbers? There is no doubt that places in the traditionally more prestigious 16-19 secondary education courses leading to the general or technical Baccalaureat have been 'rationed' on the basis of attainments. Demand for places on these courses at the guidance point at the end of compulsory schooling invariably exceeds supply. Those pupils whose request to be allowed to continue onto Baccalaureat courses is not met, may enter the lower level vocational courses (CAP, BEP) entry to which is open to all. (8) Within the group which accedes to Baccalaureat courses, a similar process operates, whereby access to the more prestigious general Baccalaureat courses is restricted to the more able; most growth has taken place in the newer technical Baccalaureat options.

By restricting the expansion of genera/educational courses in a period of steeply rising demand for post-compulsory secondary education and providing alternative vocational and technical routes, the French government has ensured that most of this growth has been directed into technical and vocational education. Lack of parity of esteem for the three routes open to 16 year olds (General Baccalaureat, Technical Baccalaureat and CAP/BEP) has been a source of unease on the part of educationalists and, in particular, the vocational route, with its more limited possibilities of progression to higher-level qualifications has been criticised. Although a 'common core' of mathematics, French and a foreign language is stipulated for all qualifications offered to 16-19 year olds and routes for transfer from CAP/BEP to Baccalaureat courses were available, the standard required was very demanding and no more than 10 per cent of CAP/BEP students normally made the transfer to the higher-level Baccalaureat courses. Dissatisfaction among employers with the narrow scope of the CAP, and the need to provide realistic progression opportunities have led to the introduction in 1986 of the Vocational Baccalaureat taken in the vocational lycee two years after the BEP and which gives access both to employment and to technical courses within higher education.

Access to higher secondary school examination courses in Britain A-levels and equivalent Scottish examinations) has been restricted in ways similar to France by the widely-applied prescription of higher grades of O-Level GCE achievement as a condition of access. As in France, the proportion of the age-group taking a range of the academically-orientated A-Level courses hardly expanded over the period. The difference between the two countries lies in the contrast between the post compulsory-school careers of 80 per cent of the age-group for whom satisfactory achievement at A-Level as presently constituted is not an appropriate target.

In France, almost all this group, including those with no record of success at secondary school enrol in a range of full-time technical or vocational courses whose structure and labour-market value is widely recognised and understood. In Britain, offers of apprenticeships normally target the same restricted pool of leavers with good' O-Level passes as do A-Level courses, Further Education Colleges offering full-time vocational and educational courses might, at first sight appear to offer suitable provision and opportunity for those with few educational qualifications to move from school onto vocational courses. However, initial evidence from the Youth Cohort Survey indicates that 16 year olds with no or low-level educational attainments are unlikely to choose this route.

A clearer and more coherent system combining general education and vocational and technical qualifications and offering courses appropriate for nearly all levels of attainment at ages 15-16 has been an important factor in enabling France to enrol the 80 per cent of all pupils who are not selected for entry to an academic Baccalaureat course. The success of this 80 per cent in gaining a range of technical and vocational qualifications has made a substantial contribution to France's recent progress in increasing stocks of vocational and technical qualifications in the labour-force.

In England and Wales, over the period 1979-88, the greatest growth occurred in qualifications obtained at school and in further education, that is, in general educational qualifications (O-Level and CSE grades 2-5). Stocks of O-Level and CSE qualifications in the labour-force increased by 4 per cent per annum between 1979 and 1988 while stocks of individuals holding vocational qualifications increased by less than 1 per cent per annum over the same period. These calculations are based on analysis of 16-24 year olds in employment taken from special tabulations of the Labour Force Survey 1979 and 1988. in the absence of adequate national statistics on vocational qualifications gained in Britain at levels comparable to other European countries we have had to rely on the measure of 16-24 year olds in the labour-force holding vocational qualifications at two different dates to try to judge whether there has been any growth. Detailed analysis distinguishing City and Guilds Part 11 from, for instance, trade apprenticeship completed is not possible because of the reordering of qualifications in the LFS analysis between 1979 and 1988.

2. Stocks of qualifications and intermediate qualification levels

A larger percentage of the French labour-force now holds one of the range of intermediate vocational qualifications than is the case in Britain. The division of this group into those holding higher intermediate and lower intermediate qualifications in each country allows us to identify more precisely where the British shortfall is located. Levels of stocks of higher-technician level skills in Britain are similar to those in France; the shortfall in Britain results from lower levels of 'craft-type' qualifications. In recruiting at intermediate skill level, French and British employers initially draw upon current stocks of skills available in the labour-force-in the case of foremen, most frequently through internal recruitment and about mid-way through working life, in the case of technicians, more frequently through external recruitment and at a younger age. We would not wish to imply that those in either country holding no vocational qualifications have no skills to offer employers. We are here merely trying to assess how far each country has gone in ensuring that the working population acquires at least some basic technical and vocational knowledge in a systematic way and has passed through national objective assessment procedures.

The study of intermediate skill levels is not so far advanced that a widely accepted definition of the term has yet emerged. For the purposes of this note, our initial definition is qualifications-based and, more precisely, identifies a broad range of vocational qualifications which lie below first degree level and above general educational school-leaving qualifications and which together constitute the qualifications which prepare for intermediate technical and managerial positions in manufacturing industry. These positions in turn cover the spectrum of middle managerial and technical services supplied in support of those directly employed in production on the one hand (skilled and semi-skilled operators) and in research, design and development and higher management (graduates) on the other.

Lower-level intermediate qualifications usually certify a range of manual skills supported by the appropriate technical study required for the independent exercise of those skills. Technical knowledge is usually restricted to that required for a particular occupational area. By contrast, higher level technical qualifications do not train in a specific range of manual skills (although these may be acquired to a limited extent). Mathematical and scientific knowledge required encompasses sufficient theoretical understanding to allow the holder to 'problem-solve', or to devise and carry out new testing procedures and to contribute substantially to design and development. Qualifications of employees at intermediate skill level (See Appendix B for definitions)

Foremen: Foremen and technicians occupy the main positions supplying intermediate skills in manufacturing.

In both Britain and France, the mean age of foremen is around 42; in the case of France, their qualification levels will not reflect the full impact of the recent rise in intermediate qualification levels. Nevertheless, while in Britain, around forty per cent of first-line supervisors or foremen hold intermediate vocational qualifications, in France half do so table 2). in both countries, employees classified as first-level or line supervisors who hold an intermediate level qualification are more likely to hold a lower-level ('craft-type') qualification.

Technicians: A comparison of the qualifications of individuals classified as technicians in Britain and France shows that technicians are considerably more likely to hold vocational or degree level qualifications than those at supervisory level; in both countries, all but some 30 per cent hold either intermediate vocational or degree level qualifications (table 2).

Similar proportions of technicians in both countries are qualified at lower intermediate level, but at higher intermediate level (British HNC/HND) France employs 50 per cent more than Britain. Graduates constitute 12 per cent of technicians in Britain and only 3 per cent in France. This is consonant with widely-voiced complaints that British graduates are 'under-employed' in technician-level and foreman work in Britain (a point further discussed in a forthcoming study of the deployment of technicians and foremen). It is not easy to understand why British graduates are more frequently employed in technician positions than in France when stocks of individuals with higher technician qualifications are similar in the two countries and flows of individuals with higher technician qualifications in engineering and technology in recent years are also comparable. (12) There does not appear to be any shortage of technician skills in Britain which would justify increased deployment of graduates.

The real explanation of why British manufacturing perceives there to be a lack of higher-technician and graduate skills may more likely be found at the level immediately below foremen and technicians. Analysis of qualifications of skilled, semi-skilled and unskilled employees in the two countries working in shop-floor positions reveals four times as many in Britain with technician level qualifications and eight times as many with graduate qualifications in comparison with France (table 3).

When shop-floor qualification levels are further analysed in terms of examined and non-examined vocational qualifications, considerable differences emerge. Britain has only half the total French level of shop-floor workers with examined vocational qualifications and the higher proportions of technician and degree-level qualifications at this level may represent an attempt to compensate for low craft levels using technician-level and graduate-level skills.

In this way, technicians in British industry are 'drawn down' to lower levels by the lack of craft qualifications on the shopfloor with consequent complaints of shortages of higher technicians at technician level. Graduates are then used to compensate for this shortage at technician level. In fact, as already mentioned, flows of both graduates and technicians are similar in both countries but are differently distributed; of those employed in British manufacturing with graduate and higher technician qualifications, one third are employed in skilled and semi-skilled shop-floor work in Britain. In France, negligible numbers of higher technicians and graduates work on the shop-floor. The craft deficit appears to have far-reaching consequences for all skill levels in manufacturing.

For all the levels of qualification considered here, deployment of qualified personnel in France appears to match position and qualifications more closely than is the case in Britain. More deliberate efforts appear to be made in France to promote holders of craft qualifications to foreman positions than in Britain where foremen are hardly more likely to hold a vocational qualification than are the shop-floor employees whom they supervise. in contrast to Britain, French managers are invariably well-informed about the different levels of skill attested by the vocational qualification system and are well-informed about their own employees' qualifications. it seems likely that the combination of a more coherent and better-understood system of vocational qualifications combined with greater managerial awareness contribute to a more efficient use of the resources available.

Pay differentials and payment structures in the two countries clearly play a part and are discussed at greater length in a forthcoming companion study. Briefly, pay differentials for technicians, foremen and skilled and unskilled workers are considerably more compressed in Britain than in France, providing both employers and employees with less reason to deploy higher level technical skills at the appropriate level. Employees in large French firms in a number of manufacturing sectors are covered by collective agreements which specify rates of pay according to qualification level and not according to job. Employers who recruit for lower level posts at high qualification levels would find themselves paying well above the average rate for that particular category and are consequently more careful to deploy skilled personnel appropriately. Conclusions Britain's policies to improve educational and vocational qualifications has increased numbers in employment holding lower level general educational qualifications, but has failed to increase stocks of intermediate vocational qualifications in the nine years to 1988. France has registered a 25 per cent increase in numbers with vocational qualifications over the same period. The consequences of the British shortfall for the deployment of individuals with vocational qualifications at intermediate skill level is clear. The greatest gap is at the lowest level of intermediate qualification (craft or NVQ Level 3) and there is a tendency for higher level skills to be progressively drawn down' in Britain to plug the gap. At foreman and technician level, disproportionate numbers of graduates are employed with consequent underusage of their knowledge and skills and lack of job satisfaction. The lack of a coherent and widely understood national system of vocational qualifications also contributes to skilled manpower being more often deployed at lower levels than would appear appropriate.

Policies of setting educational goals in terms of proportions qualified to different levels with strong emphasis on the upgrading of skills have served France well in the period 1960-88-to the extent that from a position of relative disadvantage France has now 'overtaken' Britain in all but graduate-level qualifications. The British effort has also been considerable but has failed to provide a satisfactory basis for progression for more than a small proportion of leavers. The school-leaving qualification attesting general educational attainment awarded at 16 has been extended to include virtually the whole age group but expansion has been mainly in lower grade passes and with no increase in the tendency to continue with training to recognised levels of vocational qualification. in France, a commitment to staying-on in full-time education beyond the minimum school-leaving age to at least age 17 or 18 is necessary to obtain any vocational or general educational qualification that is recognised and accepted by employers. Employment of 16 year olds without training or apprenticeship is now almost unheard of in France.(13)

Damaging gaps are most apparent in Britain at the lowest level of internationally-recognised qualification (NVQ Level 3) and Britain's priority should be the promotion of a broadly-based Level 3 vocational education and training to the age of 18 for most young people giving access to the workplace or to higher education. National curriculum provision 14-16 should, therefore, as a first priority lay the foundations for such courses-for example by preparing pupils for BTEC First certificates or modules to provide continuity

and a sense of progression through to post-compulsory education or training.

The French have already set their target for the year 2000-75 per cent of young people to the equivalent of A-Level-and intend to achieve this aim principally by expanding technical and vocational courses of an A-Level standard. In Britain, despite the lead given recently by the CBI and TUC there is no sign of a nationally coordinated response from those responsible for education and training poliCy.(15)

Changes in courses and provision for 16-19 year olds initiated by the Department of Education and Science currently address only the issue of changing GCE Advanced Level courses in order to bring their standards and methods of assessment more into line with those of the GCSE. These initiatives seem inadequate in two respects; firstly, A-Level will remain an academic course of study without the practical vocational dimension found in both the French technical and vocational Baccalaureat courses. Secondly, and more importantly, it seems doubtful whether even in greatly revised form-it will provide an appropriate aim for more than forty per cent of the age group. These efforts attempt to offer a strictly education-based solution to less than half the 16-19 population.

In its own and artificially segregated context, the Department of Employment is preparing to promote and finance training for young people in employment through locally-based TECS. in comparison with French initiatives, two points are noteworthy here. Firstly, the stated aim for most trainees in these two-year programmes is NVQ Level II while the minimum level attained in France is the equivalent of NVQ Level III; second, the routes followed by trainees are not part of the same system of qualifications available within the education system and with opportunities for transfer between different routes as is the case in France. It seems clear to us that great benefits derive both to employers and young people from the clarity and coherence of the 16-19 framework of qualifications in France and from deliberate efforts to provide within such a framework for virtually the whole ability range-despite an education system which maintains rigorous and high academic standards. if the French can overcome the handicap of an elitist academic tradition and firmly establish that educational goals must be compatible with national economic growth, Britain should be capable of doing the same.

The range of qualifications in France and Britain which are recognised for the purposes of the Enquete-Emploi and the Labour Force Survey classification are set out in full below.


Diplome non declare

No stated qualification. Includes an unspecified number of foreign qualifications. We have not attempted an estimate for these as we have done for the foreign qualifications in Britain.

Aucun diplome

No qualifications, but may have taken, for example, CAP examinations and failed. All the certificates described below are group certificates and a pass must be obtained over the range of subjects required for an award tb be made. This category also comprises those who have passed the practical part of the CAP examination and failed in general educational subjects.

Certificat d'etudes primaires (CEP)

Before 1950, some seventy per cent of the French population was educated within the elementary school system only between the ages of 6 and 14 years. The CEP was a written examination in French, mathematics, history and geography which was taken by the brighter elementary school pupils at around the age of 14. Before the school reforms of 1958, it carried a certain prestige and allowed the holder to attempt the competitive entry examinations for the lower grades of civil service. Although the examination has been superseded by certification at later ages, we were surprised to learn, in conversation with officials at the Ministere de I'Education Nationale that the examination is still offered and taken by an unspecified number of young people. The main reason appears to be that some young people fear that they may not succeed in subsequent more difficult examinations and take the CEP in order to 'have something'. We have not been able to judge the standard of this examination but it seems unlikely to be below that of a lower grade of GCSE. In our tables 1,2,3, since we had no means of assessing the level required, the CEP has been allocated to the category of no qualifications' in line with French practice.

Brevet d'etudes du premier cycle (BEPC) This is an examination taken at around age 16 (end of compulsory education end of first cycle of secondary education by about eighty per cent of pupils completing their education in the comprehensive 'college'.

The BEPC requires a pass in written examinations in three core subjects-French, mathematics, history and geography (the latter two taken together as a single subject)-together with satisfactory school work in seven other school subjects (that is, a total of ten subjects!). The standard of the written examinations in mathematics (passed in 1986 by 50 per cent of the age group) is close to that of GCSE grade C (that is, above the average attainment of school leavers in this country, where the standard achieved by 50 per cent of the age group in mathematics is that of a GCSE Grade E or better).

This qualification has been assigned to the category of no qualifications' in tables 1, 2, 3, but in table 1, where a distinction is made between no vocational or educational qualifications' and 'some educational qualificiations', the BEPC has been assigned to the latter category. Certificat d'Aptitude Professionnelle (CAP) This certificate has been extensively analysed in the National institute work referred to in footnote 3. Briefly, the CAP is awarded in a wide range of occupational areas and constitutes the most basic attested level of professional/vocational competence recognised by employers. In the five occupations examined by us it was widely recognised by British experts as bringing candidates to craft level in practical skills. in addition the award requires passes in technical and general educational subjects at a middle of the range GCSE grade (D-E). The British equivalent would be an individual with GCSE lower grade maths and English, City and Guilds Part 11 in an occupational area and some practical training. This qualification has been classified as 'intermediate vocational' in tables 1 and as 'lower intermediate vocational' in tables 2 and 3.

Brevet de technicien (BT)

Another practically superseded qualification formerly taken by full-time pupils in technical lycees and by apprentices in the training schools of a few large manufacturing companies. It is considered equivalent to the technical BAC and has been classified to the 'intermediate vocational' category and, in table 1, to the' lower intermediate' level.

Brevet de Technicien Supdrieur (BTS)

Access to and standards of this level of qualification are analysed in the forthcoming report 'Intermediate skills in the work-place'. From this analysis we are satisfied that the BTS is at least of HNC or more nearly HND standard; it has been classified to 'intermediate vocational' qualifications and, in table 1, to 'higher intermediate' level.

Diplome Universitaire de Technologie (DUT)

This qualification, like the BTS, is awarded after two years full-time post-Baccalaureat study. It is considered by the French authorities as being as the same level as the BTS and has been similarly classified in this study. Various paramedical or social work qualifications requiring two years post-Baccalaurbat study

For consistency with Britain these have been classified to 'intermediate vocational level' and to the 'higher intermediate' category in table 1. They constitute 10 per cent of the BAC + 2 category.

Diplome d'enseignement universitaire general (DEUG) This is awarded on examination after two years of postBaccalaurbat study at university; equivalent diplomas exist for scientific (DUES), medical (PCEM), and technical (DEST) studies, The different awards cannot be disaggregated at this level. Around one third of those enrolling in France finish their university studies at this stage. These diplomas have been classified to 'intermediate vocational qualification level', in table 1 to the 'higher intermediate' category.

Second and third cycle university courses; Grandes ecoles, diplome dingenieur

These are discussed at greater length in S J Prais (1989) Qualified manpower in engineering op.cit. Second cycle university courses are of a minimum of one and more usually two years after the end of the first cycle and lead to the award of licence, equivalent to a first degree in Britain. Third cycle courses lead to master awards after one year. All these awards have been allocated to the university degree and higher' category in all tables. The EnqueteEmploi also has a category of 'still studying for a first qualification'. This category has been assigned to no vocational qualifications' and, in table 1 to no educational or vocational qualifications'.


A complete list of the qualifications listed by the British Labour Force Survey can be found in the Technical Note attached to the 1987 Labour Force Survey estimates published in the Employment Gazette October 1988. We confine ourselves here to comments on problems of consistency with the French qualifications. No qualifications'. 'Other qualifications' The other qualifications' category contains professional and vocational qualifications which are not awarded by BTEC or City and Guilds, and foreign qualifications. These have been allocated in tables 1 and 2 as follows, 0.17 to degree level on the assumption that a number of foreign degree-level qualifications are included, 0.13 to 'lower intermediate vocational qualification' level on the assumption that a number of lower level qualifications awarded by specialised professional bodies are included, and 0.70 to 'no vocational qualifications' on the assumption that most qualifications in this category are single subject vocational, for example, typing certificates which are similarly classified by the French Enqubte-Emploi. In table 1, the 0.70 of other qualifications' assigned to no vocational qualifications' has been included in the sub-category no vocational qualifications but some educational qualifications'. In table 3 (qualifications of shop-floor employees) other qualifications' have beer) allocated 0.30 to 'vocational qualifications below craft level' and 0.70 to no vocational qualifications' on the assumption that, at this level, the category contains very few foreign degree holders.

CSE Below Grade 1, O-Level or equivalent

The main point to note here is that a single pass at any grade qualifies for inclusion here, in contrast to France where all awards require passes in a group of subjects. The British figure for' some educational qualifications' in table 1 is therefore twice as high as the French but the French standards for inclusion are more rigorous.

GCE A-Level or equivalent

An important point of difference of the 1988 Labour Force Survey with the 1979 Labour Force Survey is that 'completed trade apprenticeship' has been reordered. In 1979 it ranked 6/17 below nursing and teaching qualifications and above ONC/OND, City and Guilds and A-Level; a category 'trade apprenticeship not completed' was also included. In 1988, 'trade apprenticeship not completed' was dropped as a category for classification and 'trade apprenticeship completed' was re-ordered to rank 11/17 below ONC/OND, City and Guilds and A-Level and above O-Level. This reordering does not affect the comparisons of 1979 with 1988 in table 1 since, for both years, trade apprenticeship completed, ONC/OND, and City and Guilds are all included in the lower intermediate vocational category. However, it does make longitudinal comparisons of numbers holding ONC/OND and City and Guilds impossible between the two points since 'completed apprenticeship' does not necessarily require City and Guilds or ONC pass.

Higher education below degree level

Secondary and primary teaching qualifications (Two-year and three-year teachers' certificates are included here, as are nursing qualifications). These constitute only 12 per cent of all qualifications at this level. The French system of occupational classification Professions et categories socioprofessionnelles (PCS) used in the Enquete-Emploi differentiates occupations by 3 levels. This system (PCS) replaced the old (NAI) in the 1982 Census, and the 1988 Enqutte-Emploi and 1982 Census therefore use the same system of classification. First, occupations are divided into 8 groupings (Niveau agredge). At this level, foremen are not distinguished separately but are grouped with technicians and other intermediate groups in category 4 (Professions intermediaires). At the next level down (niveau intermdiaire) category 4 is divided into 4 separate heads, and category 48 distinguishes 'contremaitres, agents de maitrise'. The 'niveau detaille' at the next level of disaggregations does not show any greater disaggregation. However, more detailed information of type of occupation of foremen is provided by the breakdown in the 1982 Census (Formation) p.50. Here, the CS 48 is further disaggregated to a four-digit level into eight occupational categories and within each category two levels of foremen are distinguished, second level, indicating a foreman supervising other foremen or technicians and first level, indicating a foreman directly supervising other employees.

The eight occupational areas are: - 1) Agriculture and fishing

2) Electricity, electronics

3) Metalworking, engineering

4) Building and public works

5) Chemistry, food processing

6) Others (manufacturing, energy and water)

7) Maintenance and installation

8) Various (warehousing, manual occupations, restaurants)

For all these categories, detailed information on qualification levels is available in the 1982 Census. In the 1988 Enquete-Emploi only the category 48 is given without further disaggregation. Numbers of foremen in category 48 in the 1982 Census are 570,580 and in the 1988 EnqubteEmploi 566,332. Category 48 excludes supervisors in the English sense of those supervising employees in office and other tertiary sector occupations and thus relates to foremen only in the English sense of supervisors in manufacturing occupations. However, the French PCS distinguishes three separate categories of artisans, roughly covering domestic repairs of all kinds and craft manufacture (see Census 1982 (Formation) p. 54-5 for complete list). The 3 categories of artisans are

a) self employed or employers of 0-9 persons

b) skilled artisans

c) unskilled artisans

Within this group no foremen are distinguished (clearly the category of self-employed and small employers and foremen cannot be assumed to be equivalent). The lack of a category of artisan foremen in France poses a problem for comparison with Britain where foremen in 'artisan-type occupations are distinguished. The next section sets out the method used for dealing with this problem. Comparison with Britain: Foremen The method adopted in this study has been to take the French category 48 and construct an equivalent British category matching for occupational area and status as far as possible. A special tabulation of LFS data for 1988 was obtained from the Department of Employment listing all those in employment of working age in GB by highest qualification and by occupation unit. It should again be noted that the French tables relate to the active population (including unemployed) whereas the British tables relate to those in employment only (Note a, table 1, [micro-m.50]). The listing by occupation unit for Great Britain allows us to distinguish between foremen in manufacturing occupations and foremen in artisan occupations. Artisans are separately classified in the Enquete-Emploi and it was therefore necessary for comparability to exclude the British artisan' foremen. A file was constructed by extracting only those foremen in manufacturing occupations (not artisans) judged equivalent to the French occupational coverage for foremen. Foremen in transport and road haulage were excluded because they are not present in the French grouping. Foremen of other electronic maintenance engineers' were transferred to the technician category (see below Technicians'). A print-out of the complete list of foremen is available on request. At the same time, it became clear that another British category 034.0 Production, works and maintenance managers, works foremen' created a problem since it was a large and heterogeneous category (320,000) and it was impossible to establish a) what was proportion of works foremen' constituted and b) it could not be assumed that works foremen' qualifications would be similar to the average of all qualifications for the group. A solution was to take out from the French foremen the second level' (foremen supervising other foremen) so that the two groups were only of first-line foremen. Agricultural, fishing and restaurant categories were also excluded. This meant working from the 1982 Census figures to establish the qualification levels of the sub-group of French foremen and then revising the levels in light of increases and decreases for the whole category recorded in the 1988 Census. These adjustments form the basis for the comparisons in table 2. A persistent worry is the disparity in numbers of foremen a) between Britain and France and b) between different British data sources.

The final adjusted total of French foremen is 452,000 and for Britain 639,000. it seems fairly certain that the French figure is an underestimate since it includes only foremen covered by nationally negotiated wage agreements (conventions collectives). On the other hand, it is unlikely that it includes 'charge hands'. Like the LFS the French Enquete-Emploi allows proxy replies and the error thus arising is therefore unlikely to distort one country more than another. However, French respondents are asked to state whether they are, for example, foreman or technician and this information is used as a basis for constructing the category 'foreman'. The British LFS asks a similar question (Question 16) but it is not yet quite clear whether it is used to assign individuals to foreman categories or whether this is done on the basis of responses to the question about occupation (Question 13). The 1988 Labour Force Survey records a total of 1,068,377 foremen in manufacturing taken from KOS 084-161 inclusive. A special tabulation based on Question 16 of the 1989 Labour Force Survey [Are you a manager, supervisor/foreman, or not manager, supervisor/foreman?] gives a similar total of 1,186,059 in the corresponding industry divisions (2-5 inclusive and industry division 7). However, the 1981 Census of Population Economic Activity table 13 records only 565,840 foremen in the same industry divisions. In both the LFS and the Census, coders were instructed to ignore those described as charge hands but the larger numbers of foremen in Britain (41 per cent more than in France, while employment in manufacturing is only 17 per cent higher) and the discrepancy between the British Census and LFS returns means that there remains a worry that the LFS data includes individuals who do not properly have foreman status. This may, in turn, mean that table 2 understates the level of foreman qualification in Britain by including individuals who have charge hand rather than foreman responsibilities.

The 'matching' of technicians in France and Britain The approach adopted in attempting to match the groups designated 'technicians' in the two countries was similar to that used for foremen. The 1982 Recensement provides a breakdown of the technician category 47 to four-digit level. From this and from our plant visits we established that, in France, employees designated by firms as technicians may be employed on a wide range of tasks ranging from technical support requiring 'skilled worker' levels of qualification and placed on a salary scale at a level similar to that of skilled worker, to support for design and development requiring higher technician levels of qualification and placed on a salary scale at a point similar to that of an experienced foreman or plant manager. In France, we noted a tendency to designate electrical and electronic maintenance staff as technicians whereas, in Britain, they would normally be classified as skilled workers. in both countries, a distinction is recognised between engineers, performing work normally requiring training of university degree standard (OPCS Classification of occupations 1980 p.XXXV) and technicians who would not normally be expected to hold a university degree. The approach adopted in trying to assemble the two populations of technicians was to start from the four-digit descriptive level in the 1982 Recensement and to work through the technician categories listed in OPCS 'Classification of occupations' to establish which groups matched the French categories. (pp.xxxvi-xxxvii. KOS 029.0-033.3) A number of groups were excluded because they matched French CSPs not classified to technicians (architects, townplanners, aircraft flight deck officers etc.). Al( other categories match the French descriptions reasonably well. in addition, four categories of skilled electrical and electronic maintenance workers were added to the British technicians to match the inclusion of these groups in France. Qualifications of technicians in France were based on CSP 47 in the 1988 Enquete-Emploi. The final totals of technicians arrived at by this method in the two countries were fairly similar, 772,000 in France and 757,000 in Britain. For the purposes of this paper, technicians are those so described in the Labour Force Survey for Britain and the Enquete-Emploi for France. in Britain, to technicians and draughtsmen so defined have been added electricians, electrical and electronic maintenance engineers and electrical maintenance fitters to match the French technician categories which also comprise these. in Britain, the definition of technician comprises condensed readings KOS 0.29.0, Draughtsmen, 0.30.1, Laboratory technicians, 0.30.2, Engineering technicians and technician engineers, 031.2, Quantity surveyors, 031.3, Building land and mining surveyors, 033.1, Architectural and town planning technicians, 033.2 Building and civil engineering technicians, 033.3 Technical and related a.e.c. 018.1 Medical technicians 120.7 Foremen and other electronic maintenance engineers, 121.2 Electricians, electrical maintenance fitters 121.3 Electrical engineers (so described) 123.2 Other electronic maintenance engineers. in France, technicians are taken as CS 27 comprising CS (niveau detaille) 4701-47.95 inclusive. For further detail see Recensement 1982 Formation p.49.

Shopfloor workers in manufacturing occupation

Data in both countries have been taken from classification based on occupation and occupational status and not from classifications by industry since these do not allow us to distinguish between employees with different levels of status. Of those classified in Britain as skilled and unskilled employees a sub-group has been selected comprising all skilled and unskilled workers in occupations falling within Order 1 1 (Materials processing: making and repairing (excluding metal and electrical) Order 12 (Processing, making, repairing and related (metal and electrical) Order 13 (Painting, repetitive assembling, product inspecting, packaging and related) Order 14 (Construction, mining and related not identified elsewhere) Order 15 (Transport operating, materials moving and storing and related) and Order 16 (Miscellaneous). This leaves us with a group of skilled and semi-skilled employees engaged in manufacturing very broadly defined and who number some 6 million in Britain. The Enquete-Emploi does not disaggregate skilled and unskilled workers by industry sector. However, it was possible, using the following procedure, to check on possible divergence of qualification levels of a French subgroup similar to the British group.

The 1982 French Census disaggregates the category of skilled and unskilled worker to the 4 digit level and, of these, four categories, 62, 64, 65 and 67 were judged to match the British category constructed. This sub-group accounted for 65 per cent of all employees in the skilled and unskilled worker category. The qualifications of 65 per cent subgroup in 1982 were compared with those of the whole category and found to be very similar. The 1988 aggregated figure of 7 million skilled and unskilled employees taken from the Enquete-Emploi has therefore been used to calculate qualification levels in table 3.
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Author:Steedman, Hilary
Publication:National Institute Economic Review
Date:Aug 1, 1990
Previous Article:Chapter II. The world economy.
Next Article:Manufacturing productivity levels in France and the United Kingdom.

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