Work/Study: The Keys to Success

Work/study programs can be used for technical, undergraduate or continuing education students. They provide companies with the opportunity to train a future professional according to the their needs. The key however is to provide adequate support.

What is a work/study program?

Work/study programs combine theoretical classes with practical hands-on training. Contracts fall under two categories: students who are continuing their initial studies and continuing education students.

Grenoble Ecole de Management (GEM) for example provides third year Grande Ecole students with the opportunity to participate in a work/study program. Continuing education work/study contracts are also available for most advanced master's programs.

NB: For companies with 250 employees or more, at least 4% of the company's work force must be part of a work/study program. Employers receive a bonus if they are over this percentage.

In France, companies benefit from reduced welfare costs to encourage such work/study opportunities and GEM provides companies with guidance to help set up contracts and find funding for participants.

Salary levels for work/study participants are dependent on two factors: age and the length of the training program. The older the participant, the higher percentage of the minimum wage he or she will touch.

Create a long term collaboration

Work/study programs are an opportunity for businesses to create a real long term collaboration that meets their needs. "Internships for example don't exceed six months within a company. On the other hand, work/study provides employers with the chance to welcome students over a longer period. This creates a better environment for the student's integration in the company and allows the trainee to better apprehend the company's activities, processes and methods." highlights Sylviane Chabli, the GEM professor in charge of internships, work/study and mentoring projects.

Provide participants with valuable missions

At GEM, work/study participants alternate between two weeks in company and one week in school. This creates an opportunity for the employer to participate in the pedagogical project. "One of the keys to a successful work/study contract is to provide participants with important tasks that allow them to progress all the while giving their company concrete results. This leads to a win-win situation." adds Sylviane Chabli.

Ensure adequate supervision

In France, a law passed in 2014 for example forces companies to designate a mentor for each work/study participant. These "supervisors" give trainees their objectives and provide motivation. In addition, they act as a link between the school and the organization. GEM regularly organizes meetings with supervisors to help anticipate and solve any difficulties that may arise.

Benefit from a new perspective

Trainees offer employers a new perspective on their company. Sometimes they can disrupt habits and introduce new methods they have learned during their classes. As business environments continue to evolve and become all the more complex, it is essential for any company to be open to new ideas and rethink their organization. Trainees therefore may provide the key to accelerating positive change.

Mireille Bruder