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Vendredi 17 Mai 2019
In the context of high unemployment, the share of recruitment projects that are considered "difficult" by French companies has increased considerably over recent years[1]. Candidates' insufficient training and lack of skills are among the most common reasons highlighted by employers to explain this paradox. Some studies suggest that the French education system is not able to address the labour market’s needs[2].
Quelles entreprises pratiquent la gestion des compétences ?

However, given the rift between labour supply and demand, this analysis cannot focus on candidates’ shortcomings alone. It must also address companies’ ability to identify, mobilise and develop their employees’ skills[3]. This “skills management” offers several advantages: it promotes the recruitment of profiles that companies need, allows to better absorb technology and economic shocks and supports changes in workplace organisation.

Yet, only a quarter of private-sector companies systematically implement a skills management approach, with wide differences relating for the most part to the size of the company or to its sector of activity.

Proportion of companies systematically implementing a skills management approach, by sector of activity

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E.g.: Among private financial and insurance companies, 69% systematically practice skills management.

Note: this sample is comprised of private-sector companies with at least three employees, all sectors included (excluding agriculture). Weak or null: index comprised between 0 and 0.33 included; moderate: index above 0.33 and below or equal to 0.66; systematic: index above 0.66 and below or equal to 1.

Source: France Stratégie, according to Céreq-CNEFP, Défis volet entreprises, 2015


Over the last thirty years, stakeholders in the fields of employment, vocational training and education have gradually acknowledged that the concepts “job” and “qualifications” are not very operational in a widely evolving economic and technological context. Indeed, these concepts are defined by the strong link that they establish between a list of tasks to be carried out in order to occupy a position and the knowledge and know-how embodied by a diploma. They remain relevant only if changes in work are anticipated sufficiently in advance and if these changes spread slowly and evenly across companies in the same economic sector. In a context marked by trade globalisation and the quick and unforeseeable dissemination of technological innovations, the notion of “skills” seems far more effective, in that it refers to the “ability to combine knowledge, know-how and soft skills to perform a task or an activity”[4].

The renewed and ever-changing requirements of the companies cannot be fully taken into account by the training system driven by National Education, which fails to adjust sufficiently fast.  It is companies’ responsibility to commit to an approach allowing workers to acquire, mobilise and update their skills in the workplace, in order to achieve a better match between companies’ needs and workers’ skills.

Among the tools available, forward-looking management of jobs and skills (FMJS) is an interesting approach as it consists in adapting jobs, workforces and skills to suit companies’ strategic needs, particularly by taking account of current and future developments, and of their economic, technological, social and legal environment.

From a theoretical point of view, FMJS has three main advantages for employers. First, it allows them to better manage the consequences of economic and technological shocks, which can make certain skills obsolete within the company. As highlighted in the reports drafted by the Employment Advisory Council (Conseil d’orientation pour l’emploi, COE)[5], the digital transformation and advances in automation are driving profound changes as regards both the content and the structure of employment. They make it necessary for employees to acquire new skills, and particularly “social”, “organisational” or “problem-solving” skills (+33% between 1998 and 2013). Jobs that  consist in strictly applying instructions, have declined over the same period: they only represent 15% of jobs in 2013[6]. Forward-looking management of jobs and skills therefore helps companies to anticipate such changes and to deal with globalised competition.

Secondly, FMJS reduces recruitment difficulties as it allows for better identification of the skills needed by the company and enhances those are already present within it. This is particularly true when the skills sought by the company are specific. In this case, turning to the labour market can be complicated, and even useless, as job seekers are less likely to invest in acquiring specific skills that cannot be easily transferred from one company to another or from one sector of activity to another[7].

Thirdly, FMJS supports organisational changes, by making them easier to accept for employees. In labour economics and in management sciences, several theoretical works insist on the necessary convergence between the company’s strategy and skills management, as well as the impact that these skills have on economic performance.  For example, Ferrary and Trépo (1999)[8] recall that transitioning from a traditional labour organisation model to automated production systems lead to increased needs in terms of qualifications, accountability, motivation, versatility and cooperation - all needs that could not be properly integrated to production processes without well-implemented skills management.

Although the Labour Code only provides an obligation to implement such a forward-looking management for companies with at least 300 employees[9], all companies are free to adopt this approach. Yet, despite the many advantages listed above, companies rarely commit to these issues and when they do, they do so unevenly. The purpose of this analysis note is to better identify the companies that are making these efforts and to identify which factors explain the more or less intensive use of forward-looking management of jobs and skills within a given company.

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[1] According to the survey “Besoins en main-d’oeuvre” (“Labour needs”) by Pôle Emploi.

[2] Mohnen P., Garcia-Penalosa C. and Artus P. (2014), ” Redresser la croissance potentielle de la France” (“Restoring France’s Potential Growth”), Les Notes du Conseil d'analyse économique, no. 16, September.

[3] Desjardins R. and Rubenson K. (2011), ”An analysis of skill mismatch using direct measures of skills”, OECD Education Working Papers, n° 63, OCDE ; Ben Mezian M. (2017), Renforcer la capacité des entreprises à recruter (Improving businesses’ ability to recruit), report by Réseau Emplois Compétences, France Stratégie, August.

[4] According to the National Commission for Professional Qualifications (CNCP).

[5] Employment Advisory Council (2017), Automatisation, numérisation et emploi (Automation, digitisation and employment), Volumes 1 and 2.

[6] Le Ru N. (2016), ”L'effet de l'automatisation sur l'emploi : ce qu'on sait et ce qu'on ignore” (“The impact of automation on employment: what we know and what we don’t”), Note d'analyse, no. 49, France Stratégie, July.

[7] Estevez-Abe M. et al. (1999), ”Social protection and the formation of skills”, in Varieties of Capitalism - An Institutional Foundation of Comparative Advantage, Oxford University Press.

[8] Ferrary M. and Trépo G. (1998), ”La gestion par les compétences : pour une opérationnalisation de la convergence entre la stratégie d'entreprise et la gestion des ressources humaines” (“Skills management: towards implementing a convergence between business strategy and human resource management”) , Actes du 9e Congrès de l'AGRH, Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines, p. 486-503.

[9] Since 2005, the Labour Code (Art. L. 51211-3 et seq.) requires all companies with 300 employees or more to conduct negotiations with social partners on these topics every three years.  Amended when the Planning Act for Social Cohesion of 18 January 2005 was enacted.

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