Learning during apprenticeships
FROM APPRENTICE TO ENGINEER
Apprenticeships offer both vocational and academic education. By alternating periods of work and study, the apprentice engineer acquires solid theoretical, scientific, and technical skills while retaining a foothold in the world of business to learn all about the different aspects and expectations of working life.
By choosing an apprenticeship, young people build their own career paths through the specific nature of the tasks they are entrusted with in the workplace.
By the end of their training, the successful apprentices will have gained solid scientific and technical understanding in a wide range of fields and highly specialised knowledge in areas needed by companies. Apprentices can then fit into the workforce more easily since they are already familiar with company life and practices from their work-study experience.
Organisation of the training
Future engineers sign a 3-year apprenticeship contract. The apprentice attends classes at Polytech Paris-Saclay, 20 weeks a year (600 hours per year), and trains with a company during the rest of the year (except for annual holidays).
The apprentice has the status of an employee at the company. They enjoy the same rights and are subject to the same obligations as the company’s other employees. The apprentice is paid a percentage of the national minimum wage (SMIC) which rises in line with the apprentice’s age and the year in which the contract is undertaken.
The apprentice’s salary is exempt from income tax up to the threshold of the annual minimum wage.
The apprentice is also exempt from university tuition fees.
Throughout their training, apprentice engineers are guided by a dual tutoring system with (i) a qualified professional in the company who serves as the apprenticeship supervisor and, (ii) an academic tutor at Polytech Paris-Saclay. In the company, the apprenticeship supervisor oversees, trains, advises, guides, supports and educates the apprentice and proposes activities and training that are adapted to each stage of their development. At the faculty, the academic tutor acts as an educational coordinator between the university and the company. The tutor is committed to following the academic and personal development of the apprentice for the whole duration of the programme.
The programme usually works on the basis of 2 weeks of classes/2 weeks at work. Every year, outside the 2-month summer vacation period, apprentices spend a longer period in the company ranging from six weeks in the first year and up to 4 months in the final year.
Academic performance at the faculty is measured by continuous assessment. The apprentice’s workplace performance is jointly assessed by both parties (company and faculty).
During the three-year programme, a minimum of nine weeks of international mobility is mandatory during the periods spent with the company.
Faculty teaching method
The teaching method is based on courses and tutorials in small groups which rely heavily on practical work and projects. Working in small groups fosters teamwork and develops students’ autonomy.
Academic teaching is divided between training in specific subjects (Electronics and Robotic Systems/Information Technology and Mathematical Engineering/Equipment: Mechanics and Energy/Photonics and Optronic Systems) and training common to all specialist areas.
In the core curriculum, the four specialities are combined and follow the same courses which represent more than 35% of the teaching over the three years: Economics, Law, Management, Communication, English, Maths, cross-disciplinary and cooperative projects, and, as options: a second modern language, sport, cultural workshops, etc.
Throughout the programme, apprentices are given one-to-one follow-up and support according to their needs in order to foster their long-term success.