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Cap Savoir : Skills are the objective in Cholet

Pays de la Loire - Cholet
Access to employment

In 1996, the non-profit organisation Cap Savoir in Cholet in the Loire region of France was created to assist the underqualified and unemployed in relearning the basics of reading and writing. The organisation, dynamically run by six employees and some fifty volunteers, welcomes more than 250 learners each year.



According to a 2006 Insee survey of the Loire region, 10% of people who received formal education are illiterate. Nevertheless, 60% of them work. The reason? “Many are manual labourers who do not necessarily need basic skills like writing. However, when the company closes and it’s time to find employment, that's when it hurts,” explains Marie-Fan Giraudon, founder of Cap Savoir.

The Cholet region, a centre for the textile and shoe industry as well as agriculture and automotive equipment, has long experienced a significant level of unemployment. “The unemployed are often those who haven’t held a pen in years. Compiling a CV and consulting job offers on the internet become challenges to overcome,” continues Marie-Fan, who created Cap Savoir in 1996 in response to the situation. Her idea was to train anyone who needs to obtain or strengthen basic skills in reading, writing, arithmetic, speaking, computers, etc. Assistance is offered to underskilled workers as well as the unemployed in the process of being integrated, no matter their age.

Original teaching methods

Cap Savoir uses original teaching methods using cultural and artistic resources (staging shows, bookstore visits, meetings with writers, etc.). According to Marie-Fan, it’s a good way to “spark the desire to learn.” Courses always include several students to encourage participation. Teachers have assistance from several volunteers to assure a minimum level of individual attention. The organisation is especially proud of a computer centre set up in 2007 that includes twelve workstations with high speed internet access. “Thanks to the VINCI Foundation, we had a budget of €9,000 to purchase the necessary computer and office equipment,” explains Marie-Fan. “We are now licensed to provide a 60-hour training course leading to the internet browsing certificate.” Such training has become indispensable not only for finding employment but also for adapting to changes in the workplace. To ensure the best assistance for its students, the organisation relies on the advice of its sponsor, Patrick Jarraud, director of Gauriau Industrie (VINCI Energies) in Cholet, responds, “I helped identify the companies most likely to hire from this population. I also try to give my best advice concerning the organisation’s future…” The future remains uncertain: “Since the government no longer subsidizes the fight against illiteracy, we must rely to an even greater extent on vocational training by private enterprise,” explains Marie-Fan Giraudon. It’s a service that the organisation hopes will be profitable so that it can continue its mission of serving the most in need.

February 2010 © Reporters d'Espoirs news agency

Reporters d'Espoirs news agency

VINCI Foundation works with Reporters d'Espoirs, a French news agency, to highlight and share the innovative social initiatives that it supports. The arrangement includes the writing of articles and exchange on topics that lead to solutions. Thus presented, the initiatives, validated using the criteria of the editorial charter of Reporters d'Espoirs, are intended to demonstrate their development and results.