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Subject Les Compagnons de Devoir: the emergent lessons for HRD
Hedley Malloch, Birgit Kleymann, Jacques Angot; Catholic University of Lille, France
Tom Redman, University of Durham, United Kingdom
> Discussion of presentation
Outline The paper is a case which describes the HRD system of Les Compagnons du Devoir (CdD) an ancient French trade guild offering high-skill vocational and educational training (VET), rich in culture and humanity, in 22 trades mainly in the engineering and construction industries.  It has about 10,000 young people in training at any one time making it a medium-sized player in French VET.  The authors are members of the Conseil Scientifique de l’International Journeyman Programme.  The International Journeyman Programme is a project set up to offer high-skills training to young people from the north of England by passing them through the CdD training system. 
    The paper describes the history of the CdD identifying it as a highly successful HRD system.  The tangible elements of the CdD are described namely the membership, the Houses (a network of residential colleges), and the vocational and cultural curriculum.  This is followed by a description and discussion of its philosophy, notably notions of le devoir, le métier and the honour principle.  The paper then describes and analyses some of the reasons for its success.  These are the:
  • volume of off-the-job training; 
  • management of movement and change; 
  • wide range of support available to learners from full-time and retired workers;
  • diverse systems of mentoring, including near-peer and peer mentoring. 
In particular the approaches to mentoring appear to be novel, both theoretically and practically.  The paper attempts to show how these practices are rooted in the normative and highly institutionalized nature of the CdD.  The paper concludes with a discussion of those aspects of HRD best practice which could be learned form the CdD and some implications of the case for HRD theory.
Source Paper presented at the 6th international conference on HRD research and practice across Europe: Human resource development - addressing the value. Leeds 25-27 May 2005. (Abstract; full paper incl. in CD-ROM).
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