Marseille , France

Second Chance School

Écoles de la deuxième chance

July 30, 2014

Connecting employers and vocational training to educational opportunity re-connects school dropouts to future prosperity

SecondChanceSchool“We cannot tolerate young people’s social exclusion. To overcome it, we need real investment in young people, both financial and political: an investment in their education, to support their autonomy, to allow them find their way to the labour market and quality jobs, and to ensure that they are not submitted to any kind of discrimination.”Peter Matjaši, President of the European Youth Forum

Each year in France, over 150,000 youth leave school without a diploma or professional qualification. In Marseille, disenfranchised youth aren’t considered lost. They’re ready for a second chance.

The “École de la 2ème chance” (E2C) of Marseille was the first “school of second chance” established in Europe and since its inception in late 1997, has helped nearly 5,000 young people find employment or skills training.

E2C caters to young adults, 18 to 25 years without diplomas or qualifications who have been out of school for more than a year. Mostly, these are young adults who left the school system three years before entering the programme. On average, E2C students in Marseille are 20 years of age, evenly split among gender lines and represent over 12 nationalities. While not overtly focused on immigrant or visible minority youth, per se, 11% of E2C Marseille’s participants are born in countries outside of France, including Algerian, Tunisian, Moroccan, Comoran and other youth.

The school’s mission is to ensure professional and social integration of youth through education and training.  Success is measured as employment, professional qualification or diploma, or skills training/apprenticeship with an employer. At its core, the E2C model fights against the exclusion of youth in French society, in particular, in the labour market. “The initiative aims at giving them fresh motivation, getting them acquainted with the world of business, leading them towards developing their employment goals and integrating them into the labour market“ (Muslims in Marseille. London: Open Society Foundations, At Home in Europe Project).

Local lessons for national policy makers

Launched in 1997, E2C in Marseille is a shining example of how problem solving at the local, city level can contribute to better policy making at national and international levels.  The E2C Marseille model of hope has influenced the emergence of dozens of other similar programs across france and Europe. In France, the E2C network now consists of 42 schools operating in more than 110 sites in 46 Departments, 18 regions and 4 overseas territories (2012).

E2C schools recognize that the traditional education system has not worked for these youth. Training plans, career guidance and goals are constantly evaluated and adjusted along the way to meet the specific needs and progress of each learner. On average, each learner spends about 6 and a half months at E2C programs, during which they are considered trainees, and are paid a vocational training wage. Their pedagogical approach is unique, personalized, and based on five key principles:

  • Take a holistic approach that takes into account the youths’ current situation;
  • Develop partnerships with employers to support the training efforts from the start;
  • Prefer informal active learning facilitation rather than passive learning;
  • Involve a wide range of local and regional economic and social actors to respond to the socio-economic reality of the area concerned;
  • Recognize and accredit the prior learning skills of young adults.

The E2C model works, endorsed by students and creating opprtunities for youth leadership. In 2010, E2C Marseille received an innovation award for their digital/distance platform for the development of their online platform, part of their regional expansion project, to allowing them to further grow their project and reach more youth. “Destination Chance” was created by E2C students. Its aim is to promote the various activities carried out by young people, such as sports projects (sporting activities as a model of inclusion), a network of alumni, a business exchange to continue to make connections with employers, and a variety of projects that continue the civil society/social inclusion approach of E2Cs.

 Employers get it, and are on board

To ensure economic inclusion, employer participation is essential. For migrant or minority youth, it is even more an essential part of their integration process. Without employers, there cannot be success.

E2C works directly with employers and businesses to engaging corporate partners to support youth employment, training and mentoring. . Working relationships with trade organizations, chambers of commerce, as well as networks of local and regional economic leaders are also critical to the program’s success.

E2C is also a signatory of the Diversity Charter movement in France – a growing network of civil society, corporate and government actors. This focus on diversity, championed by the corporate sector, clearly works in favour of economic inclusion of E2C Marseilles youth. According to research conducted by the At Home in Europe Project, employers have helped put a positive spin on diversity: “In the workforce, public action favoured prevention and strategies of instruction to combat discrimination, before letting civil society partners take over. There is very little litigation with respect to ethnic and racial discrimination in the recruitment process or at work, but there are many charters. Even more so since the positive term, “diversity”, emerged in 2004–2005, shedding a benevolent light on a policy previously thought of as a hard sell. Due to the success of this new term, the word “discrimination” has almost disappeared from the spheres of public policy, both at the national level and in Marseilles” (Muslims in Marseille).

Success and a growing movement

The “School of Second Chance” concept was proposed in late 1995 by the European Commission as an instrument of struggle against exclusion through education, putting into practice a concept promoted by Edith Cresson while she was European Commissioner. E2C Marseille was launched in 1997 with European funding, but today it is funded by a variety of partners and is a shining example of how problem solving at the local, city level can contribute to better policy making nationally and internationally. The E2C Marseille model of hope has influenced the emergence of dozens of other similar programs across France and Europe

E2C Marseille was both the pilot project that sparked the creation of all other E2C schools in France and the founding member of the network of French schools (E2C Network France). In France, the E2C network now consists of 42 schools operating in more than 110 sites in 46 Departments, 18 regions and 4 overseas territories (2012).

Today, the E2C Network is demonstrating collective impact, growing from 1,428 young people hosted in 2004, when the Network was created, to 14,150 in 2013. The E2C Schools have increased tenfold their support for young unskilled and unemployed efforts towards vocational integration and social sustainability.

Recognized by law since March 2007, E2Cs are now positioned in the formal vocational training system, delivering a “certificate of competence.” Funding for E2C Marseille and other schools comes from diverse sources, including the EU, state and regional governments.

Making it Work for You:

  • A multidisciplinary, cross sectoral approach and long-term vision are essential in developing programs aimed at the social inclusion of youth.
  • Informal and personalized learning strategies can be more effective for marginalized youth than the one-size-fits-all approach of mainstream education models.
  • Look outside the usual actors for innovative ideas and new approaches to old problems; in E2C Marseilles, employers and educators worked together to find the best way forward.
  • Diversity by design ensures that youth programs are open to and meet the needs of all youth.

For this Good Idea contact:

Réseau des Ecoles de la 2e Chance en France
32 rue Benjamin Franklin – CS 10175 -51009 Châlons-en-Champagne Cedex
Marseille, France,

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