There are many benefits of being a salaried employee in France. One of it is the benefits of having a certain number of hours to take any courses you like FOR FREE. This is called Le Compte Personnel de Formation (CPF).
In the past, before 2016, Employers have to approve the kind of courses we want to do, for example it has to be related to our job. However this has changed since, employers no longer manage this and we are free to sign up for the courses we want.
This is how it works, employees accumulate 24 hours for the CPF each year until reaching the threshold of 120 hours (e.g. 5 years full time work), and then 12 hours per year until reaching the maximum of 150 hours.
So i’ve worked for a year in France, and when i logged onto the CPF account, i could see that i am entitled to 24 hours of training.
I decided to put these 24 hours into French lessons with a language school that has registered with the CPF. So basically, in my account, i have to submit an application, providing a code from my company, and a code from the language school. Submits it, and wait for CPF to approve it. And sit for an examination at the end of my learning to verify my learning process.
Sounds bloody simple? Well, it’s NEVER that simple in France. And let me tell you what happened.
- France loves contract signing. So to take a course with the school, i had to sign various forms and contracts. And all contracts are in French of course, but here i am trying to learn French so i do not understand what i’ve basically signed. 1st Irony.
- To submit the application, besides the code i needed from the school, there were also some questions that needed to be answered so to make it easier, the school asked me to go down, so we could do this together.
- For a school that i imagined would have worked on a few applications for CPF, they were terribly SLOW. This is also somewhat very French. Efficient service is never something that the French can boast on. I expected to spend half an hour there, but i spent a total of 1 hour with them, while i see my teacher and the secretary scrambling to find papers, forms, and the code they were supposed to use. Yet, they still got it wrong. So i had to go back a few hours later after they have sorted out something to re-sign the contracts.
- After 3 weeks of submission, i saw an email from CPF staff informing in French that i’ve used the wrong code in my application, asking me to confirm the code. I had no idea what she was talking about. There were my company’s code, and my language school’s code, it’s not my code that had an issue. So since i didn’t know what to do, i just left it as that, plus i am a few hours away in Rotterdam.
- Then my school contacted me and they said they had screwed up and used the wrong code……WHAT? well…. i shrugged and moved on.
- School asked me to head down to re-sign the form/contracts (again) and of course, since it’s the height of Summer holidays, they are closed this week onwards till 16 Aug. So i would have to wait till 16 Aug to go down and sign the form/contract that they had screwed up in the first place.
All these, i had taken them pretty well, without battling an eye lid because it’s all just very French. However something happened next that really tipped beyond my usual level of frustration with this country.
A lady from the CPF office called me, and proceeded to throw a bunch of French sentences about how she has sent me an email. I asked, Parlez- Vous Anglais? ( Do you speak English?) because i can tell it’s something administrative and i do not want to screw it up with my lousy French. She replied, ‘NON’, and a curt sentence probably meaning to say i should just read my emails, au revoir (bye) and hang up the phone on me. I was left holding on to my handphone, thinking what just all happened? Well, obviously it’s something urgent or important enough to call me, however it’s ok for me to not understand.
In addition, i applied to learn French. So how the hell i would understand her speaking in French? Where is the logic?
Is this a double whammy or what? I guess i felt that was a little rude. However what can i expect, at least she still said bye to me on the phone.
Dear French lady,
I understand i am at the mercy of French people in this country that has low tolerance for any other languages except French. I understand all that, and i am truly humbled by living in France, trust me, every.single.day. Thanks for teaching me another great lesson – that i seriously need to learn French and speak French, HOWEVER it would be nice if things just work out at 1st attempt and people are more competent.
In any case, should you need to find out more information on CPF, this is the website to go: http://www.moncompteformation.gouv.fr/