Économie et Statistique n° 378-379 - 2004Education-Employment Review
Initial training, orientations and qualifications from 1985 to 2002
The education level of young French people rose considerably from 1985 to 1995, stabilising over the last two years. The number of graduates from higher education doubled in 1996 compared with 1985, and represented nearly 38% of a given age bracket in 2001. This progress is due to the opening of different levels of the education system to larger proportions of young people. At the same time, starting in the late 1980s, more young people entered the general secondary school third and fourth years, went more often into upper school to follow a general or technological course and went on to obtain better baccalauréat pass rates. High percentages then studied in higher education with better higher education qualification pass rates. At the same time, vocational education recruited slightly fewer, albeit more highly educated young people and put a larger number through the baccalauréat. From 1990 on, enrolment in the third and fourth years continued to grow along with the exam pass rate overall. However, the choices made at the end of the fourth year changed. Families showed renewed interest in vocational education, with an upsurge in apprenticeship in particular. The increasingly high level of qualifications and lengthening of studies concerned more especially the last generations in the baby boom. For example, the 1974 generation studied 1.7 years more than the 1966 generation and ended its initial studies much more qualified. There were hence less than 700,000 exits from initial training from 1987 to 1994, whereas the generations had up to 860,000 young people in these age brackets. The subsequent stabilisation of the length of education brought the annual number of individuals leaving initial education up to approximately 780,000, on a par with the numbers in the generations in these age groups.