It’s a change of philosophy. In an interview published by The world Wednesday, October 7, Amélie de Montchalin, Minister of Transformation and Public Service, declares that specific access routes will be created from 2021 in the entrance exams to public service schools (ENA, magistrates, directors of hospital, etc.). With one objective: to reserve places at “Candidates from modest backgrounds”.
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While three quarters of ENA students have at least one parent from higher social categories and that same school has only a small percent of workers’ sons and daughters, it is essential that the State and public employers are leading by example, she argues. It is nothing more than “Restarting the social elevator” using all levers, including recruitment.
Focus on preparatory classes
The strategy consists of relying on preparatory classes – 27 in number – which many public service schools have already created. Today, 700 people study as part of these preparatory courses, open to young people from disadvantaged areas and / or scholarship holders. The aim will be to bring this figure to at least 2,000. A pool to which specific competitions will be addressed, specifies the Minister, who adds: “They certainly won’t be discount contests. They will be selective. “
This reform takes up one of the recommendations of the Thiriez report submitted to the Prime Minister last January. To rebuild the senior civil service, the former president of the Professional Football League proposed to institute “A special competition, the“ equal opportunities ”route, open to pupils who have left CPE (preparatory classes for ENA)”. Objective: to reserve, in public service schools, “10 to 15% of the workforce for promotions”.
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The government project is thus based, more or less, on a logic of positive discrimination, a logic common in part of the Anglo-Saxon world but which has little success in France. In higher education, only Sciences-Po has really attempted this solution, by reserving from 2001 a specific path for students of partner high schools in priority education. A device that this establishment ended up abandoning … as well as its written competition (in favor of an examination of the file, accompanied by an oral).
The government procrastinates
The announcement of Amélie de Montchalin arouses the skepticism of sociologist Luc Rouban. “The approach is undoubtedly generous but a little naive, technocratic. Because social selection takes place over the long term, with a succession of funnels ”, notes this specialist in the senior civil service, who believes that the government is procrastinating. “He is putting forward a measure aimed at showing his desire for social openness but which will apply to a small number of places out of a promotion of around one hundred students at the ENA. “
In doing so, he does not tackle, in any case not yet, the vast project outlined by Emmanuel Macron in 2019. The Head of State was then talking about removing the National School of Administration in order to decompartmentalize the senior civil service. , diversify recruitment and boost careers. To achieve this, the Thiriez mission recommended in particular the creation of a common core at ENA and other public service schools.
→ DEBATE. What should be reformed in the senior civil service?
“The creation of a specific competition may seem nice, also comments Pierre Bauby, director of the Observatory of Public Action, attached to the Jean-Jaurès Foundation. But it comes down to fitting people from different backgrounds into the mold. However, what we need above all is to change the mold. To ensure, for example, that in their career the enarques are regularly, one year out of five for example, placed in positions in direct contact with the field, to prevent them from acting, as is too often the case. case today, in the manner of senior civil servants above ground. “