Capital: What exactly is your bill?
Catherine Fabré: My bill aims to prevent canvassing by phone, SMS and email concerning the purchase of training via the personal training account (CPF). It also aims to prohibit the promotion of sales on these courses. Sales promotion differs from advertising: it refers to very specific marketing actions, such as “a gift offered for the purchase of a training course”, “20% reduction if you buy before such a date” or again “three formations for the price of two”. These practices have nothing to do in the field of formation. It is of course authorized to publicize a service via advertising, which is concerned by our bill is the fact of canvassing a person who has not asked for anything and putting pressure on him.
Capital: Why do you want to ban canvassing?
Catherine Fabré: I want to prohibit canvassing for several reasons. The first is that today, the French are literally harassed by organizations that carry out very aggressive sales canvassing concerning training products, via text messages and untimely calls. These calls are nuisance and are often misleading. Some organizations urge the French to use their rights at the risk of losing them, but this is totally false: the rights available on the training account are acquired forever, until retirement in most cases. It is clear that there is an attempt at manipulation. Users must take the time to choose the training that suits them, so these practices are absolutely opposed to the spirit of the reform that we passed three years ago. I also want to prohibit canvassing because it facilitates CPF fraud. There are few cases of proven fraud, but they are generally done through commercial canvassing.
Capital: In what context is this bill made?
Catherine Fabré: As I was rapporteur for the vocational training reform in 2018, I asked that it be evaluated three years later to find out if it is meeting its objectives. With MP LR Gérard Cherpion, we conducted a number of hearings and surveys, asked for statistics on all areas of the reform and delivered our report last week. It is within the framework of this report that the question of fraud was able to appear, among many points which showed how the reform was generally very successful. We have therefore made a number of recommendations, including banning cold calling and giving greater visibility to reporting possibilities in the event of fraud.
Capital: What forms does CPF fraud take today?
Catherine Fabré: Fraud can occur through identity theft or by taking control of a person’s CPF to purchase training that they did not request. It is embezzlement. Proven cases of fraud are very rare today: there were 14,000 cases in 2021 for 2 million training purchases. I would not want this small drop to hide the immense success and hope that the 2018 vocational training reform has given rise to.
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Capital: What can users who are victims of fraud do?
Catherine Fabré: The Caisse des dépôts and the Ministry of Labor react in the event of proven fraud, both by reimbursing the victims in full and by condemning the fraudsters. The idea of my bill is to dry up the phenomenon by preventing cold calling. Users must be made aware of the fact that there is the possibility of reporting fraud on the My training account site, where a section accompanies users in this procedure through a form to be completed.
Capital: What advice do you have for French people to use their rights properly?
Catherine Fabré: The 2018 reform notably finances professional development advisers. These are training professionals who are available to advise all workers free of charge on their career path, the training they can choose, how they can use their CPF, etc. When people have money to spend on their training account and they want to be referred, they absolutely must not seek advice from people who canvass them by SMS, telephone or email. The career development advisor is a much more qualitative response.
Capital: Your bill cannot be debated before the end of the parliamentary session. When could it be effective?
Catherine Fabré: Indeed, this bill cannot be debated immediately because the Constitution provides for a period of six weeks before the end of the parliamentary session, and we are less than four weeks away. It can be examined as soon as parliamentary work resumes, that is to say just after the legislative elections. I’m dropping it off so it’s ready right now. My bill can be taken up regardless of the group that will be in the majority in the Assembly after the elections and be effective very quickly, at the beginning of the summer.
Capital: What is your assessment of the vocational training reform, three years later?
Catherine Fabré: The reform of vocational training and apprenticeship, which I brought to the Assembly in 2018, gives us enormous satisfaction. All its objectives, in particular that of democratizing training and making it accessible to as many people as possible, have been met beyond our expectations. We have made sure that the French can seize their right to training and it has worked: between 2019 and 2020, the number of training courses purchased has doubled, then between 2020 and 2021, this number has again double. There is a particular improvement in access to training for French people who were far from it, such as less qualified employees and blue-collar workers. Women, who are most likely to work part-time or part-time, have also seized this right and are trained as much as men today. Training is both a very strong advance for our economy and a societal advance in terms of emancipation and self-realization. The objectives of the law have been achieved, so I want to prevent malicious actors from damaging the image of the reform through canvassing.
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