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A new way to equip youngsters with technical skills

Helping two new vocational schools train young people in sheet metal work, a trade with job openings for skilled workers

Despite the unemployment rate in France, many technical trades are in need of workers. The production schools are responding to this challenge with certification programs for young people, especially those who did not complete their studies, in trades that have high numbers of unfilled openings. Thanks to their innovative "learning by doing" educational approach, nearly 100% of those who earn their certificates go on to secure a job or continue their studies. The production schools plan to scale up the program to help 4,000 young people find jobs each year. To do so, they need to open 100 new schools by 2028 helped, among other things, by the Air Liquide Foundation and Air Liquide teams.

The FNEP inaugurates its new production school

The Cause

Each year over 80,000 young people drop out of school in France. Nearly two million young people find themselves in the NEET category: Not in Education, Employment, or Training. 

At the same time, job postings in technical fields often go unfilled due to a lack of technical skills. The goal is to match those unfilled positions with job seekers.

Guided tour of the "Ecoles de production"

The Goal: 100% of students hired

One of the most effective ways to reduce the unemployment rate for young people and integrate them into society is to train them in a trade with job opportunities and find them work. 

This is what the Air Liquide Foundation aims to accomplish by helping to establish new production schools for technical trades in areas with high demand for skilled labor. 

The goal of the project is to take the project nationwide, expanding to 100 schools by 2028 (as of 2020 there are 32 schools).


What is a production school?

A school with a unique education approach: "Learning by doing". The school has about ten young people ages 15 to 19 in each class, often young people who dropped out of school. The students, supervised by professionals, work on actual orders from customers in a supportive but demanding environment. The training combines theoretical and practical learning. Students build their self-confidence through the work they do and the respect they are shown by customers. The training and experience they receive in the production school helps them adapt to the demands of the companies where they find work.

Ecole de Production

100 schools by 2028

4000 young people trained each year

Nearly 100% job placement rate for students

The Work

Opening Two New Production Schools

The Air Liquide Foundation is helping the FNEP open two new schools specialized in sheet metal work:

  • a production school for the Le Havre region
  • a production school in Cholet (Institut de Formation Technique de l'Ouest - IFTO)

Each of these two schools that opened in 2020 will be attended by about ten students in the first year, and up to 40 young people in 3 or 4 levels in the following years: the objective, to train and integrate 110 young people in 3 years in Cholet and Le Havre.

The students follow courses of study that are accredited by the French department of education: a certificate of professional competence (CAP) in industrial applications for sheet metal work, a BAC Pro in industrial sheet metal work, and a certificate of professional qualification (CQP) in stainless steel pipework, welding track.

In November 8th 2021, the French Federation of Production Schools (FNEP) inaugurated a new school specialized in sheet metal work near Le Havre.

Read the article

What the Air Liquide Foundation is doing

Opening one of these schools involves significant financial outlays: completing the building infrastructure, outfitting the classrooms, setting up the workshops and purchasing the equipment. The production schools train young people on equipment that is similar to the machines they will use at their future workplaces. The Foundation funds the purchase of cutting-edge equipment (plasma cutters, etc.).


In addition, the Foundation connects the schools with local Air Liquide teams. The partnership with the production schools presents many opportunities for skills donation:

  • Insight into life inside a company: safety, HR, finance, business plans, management, etc.
  • Technical expertise: welding technology, maintenance, industrial electricity, etc.
  • Learning design: simulations, certifications, certificate of professional qualification for welding, etc.
  • Tours of industrial sites
  • Mentoring for at-risk youth

The Foundation is also working with the FNEP on industry 4.0 and the future of industrial trades.