Since World War II, the education system has been dramatically overhauled. This was designed to accommodate the increasing numbers of children who carry on developing themselves through study beyond primary school. Consequently, collèges, lycées and higher education institutions have expanded their offerings to accommodate the demand for the development of a highly skilled work force.
School education is compulsory in France from 6 to 16 years of age which has resulted in a high adult literacy rate currently standing at 99%. As with other governmental organisations, the French education system is centralised and managed through a number of hierarchies, which are divided into the following stages:
primary education (enseignement primaire);
secondary education (enseignement secondaire);
tertiary or college education (enseignement supérieur)
Although private schools are available, primary and secondary education, are dominated by public offerings. On the other hand, tertiary education has a higher number of private options.
France is approximately in the middle of international tables, in respect of the proportion of students going to university. The majority of students attend the Grandes Écoles of France. These are private establishments and generally specialise in a single subject area such as business. The selective process involved when students join Grandes Écoles results in moderate class sizes. The selectivity also adds to the perception of prestige which is confirmed by the tradition of the Grandes Écoles producing the majority of France’s scientists and leading executives.
In France, individuals have life-long access to education and training, at school or university, in the case of pupils and students, and in the form of continuing vocational training for anyone already in work.
Computer literacy is a given when doing business in France. As in most other E.U countries, technological understanding is taken for granted in business activities. The following sections introduce the importance of education and training and its relevance to doing business in France. Also examined is the area of foreign language competency and important cultural awareness issues.