Three top automotive organisations in France have collaborated to expand “Les Garages Écoles”, a non-profit organisation that helps youngsters who want to forge a career in the motoring industry. Giving them the chance to train on the job, this new initiative is being rolled out to 15 locations across France and trains 450 students a year. Pupils who have taken the course find it easier to pursue a career in the automotive trade, and often leave with four or five job offers. Michel Rivoire is the president of the Motul Corazon Foundation, and we caught up with him to find out more.
Michel, can you tell me about the "Les Garages Écoles" project?
The association “Les Garages Écoles” was created by three companies whose activity is in the field of automobile and motorcycle services with a clear objective and a specific deadline: to help create around 15 production schools dedicated to the automobile over the next 10 years. The fourth founder is the National Federation of Production Schools. It welcomes young people who have failed at school, reintegrates them, and supports them until they obtain a vocational diploma. It takes three years, during which these young people mix academic training and practical mechanics, in a single place: the school garage. And in accordance with the principle “do to learn”.
What’s your role in it and how is Motul involved?
The Motul Corazon Foundation and La Fondation Norauto initiated this merger, quickly joined by La Fondation Identicar. As president of the Motul Corazon Foundation, which is the corporate foundation of Motul, and with Helene Zaugg, vice-president and our executive committee, we work around the world to promote the learning of young people in social and academic difficulties. The Motul Corazon Foundation has helped more than 50 projects, notably in Europe, Africa, South America and Asia Pacific, since its inception 10 years ago. Motul nominated me to represent the company in the association, and I was elected treasurer, alongside the president, David Tuchbant, who is the president of Club Identicar. Motul is committed to mobilizing its employees and its French network and will contribute 100,000 euros annually, like its two other partners.
Why is this initiative important - has there been nothing like this in France before?
This is the first initiative of this kind in France, bringing together three players in automobile mechanics. This is an important initiative because 60,000 to 100,000 students fail at school at the end of college, ill-suited to the school system. Finally, this is an important initiative because the young people trained in this way are certain of finding a career in a sector under great stress.
What age do kids go to this school, and how long is the course?
Apprentices can enter from the age of 15 and stay for at least three years to obtain a state diploma. On leaving they begin a professional career in a company, but some continue their studies, in particular until the professional baccalaureate.
Is it nationwide? What are the plans for growth?
The program is national: two schools are being extended in Lens and in Lille; a kick-off meeting was organized in Le Mans, at the initiative of Thierry Quilan and Romain Grabowski from Motul. Three more meetings are planned for the fall in Paris, Bordeaux and Marseille.
What does it mean for students at the end of the course?
Thanks to the principle of production schools, which gives young people self-confidence and pride, they are again interested in their future. These schools allow them to learn how to work in real conditions and as such they are in great demand. The auto service industry has so many unsatisfied job offers, but students on this course have no problem getting hired right out of school. In three or four years, these young people go from failure to professional recognition.