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Subject Les Compagnons de Devoir: the emergent lessons for HRD
> Outine of presentation by Hedley Malloch
Discussion Maria Cseh
    This was such an inspiring case study. I would be very interested in looking at how institutionalised this is. How are the people selected who enter this system? What kind of professions are they prepared for? And is it open to people from other countries?

Hedley Malloch
    How are the people selected? They are selected out of the Lycée system. It sounds a little like the UK: the people who go into this kind of vocational education tend to be the turn-downs for more academic routes; so they are not high-flyers at all. But one of the characteristics of this system is its very good success rate. But the evidence of what happens to them is that only 50% stay on as craftsmen, 30 % go on into professions, and another 10% go on to University.
    Is it open? What's interesting is that two English Apprentis reported the presence of non French apprentices in their Houses. The Compagnons go into other countries and they will accept people who come across from Germany, Belgium and the former French colonies. These are all normal kids.
    What kind of qualifications do they study at Aspirant level? Most popular ones are accounting, and also a subject called socio-pédagogie, of which there is no direct English translation - it's about the sociology and psychology of learning.

Béla Kriszián
    There are Hungarian students in this system as well. This is organised and sponsored by the Chamber of Commerce in Hungary. Three or four students are going to this system every year, just after finishing their vocational training in Hungary; it's a rotation. The problem is that we cannot keep them in Hungary; after that period they want to go back. 

Sandra Watson
    Who pays for that? 

Hedley Malloch
    It pays from the taxe d'apprentissage. Every French employer has to pay 1,6% of their pay-roll, but they can pay it to an approved organisation. They also raise money from regional funds and they also run short courses for employers.

Sabine Manning
    The system you have presented is very much what we understand as the best German tradition of Berufsbildung or vocational education. The only difference is that in the German context we wouldn't dream of calling this HRD in any way. So my question is: have you incorporated the term HRD in order to fit the theme of this conference, or is there really a French concept of HRD in relation to what you have described?

Hedley Malloch
    The Compagnons are concerned with developing resourceful humans rather than human resource development as it is conventionally construed.  The more you look at examples like them, the more you become aware of the limitations and constraints of the Anglo-Saxon approach. I become more and more convinced that it is fundamentally displaced to think of HRD primarily as a means of achieving competitive strategy; it is much more about developing expertise in being human; If we took this sort of approach I think many of the other issues that we are concerned with would just take care of themselves. But there is an Anglo-Saxon obsession with the practical man, which boils down to knowing how to apply the right torque to a screw drivers. There is nothing there at all; itís the high road to nowhere.

Source Recording of discussion at the HRD conference in Leeds, May 2005 (see proceedings).
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Editor: Sabine Manning  © WIFO