Accueil » 46-2 ( 1991) » Les stratégies des entreprises québécoises en matière de formation

Les stratégies des entreprises québécoises en matière de formation

Pierre Doray


Au cours des dernières années, les questions relatives au développement de la formation en entreprise ont suscité un regain d'intérêt. Les appels lancés auprès des directions d'entreprise afin d'investir dans la formation de leur personnel se sont faits plus nombreux et plus pressants. Un tel investissement s'avère un gage de compétitivité et d'avenir. L'entreprise du 3e type investit en formation. L'orientation récente des politiques gouvernementales en matière de formation professionnelle des adultes va dans le sens d'un soutien à la formation en entreprise. Dans le présent article, l'auteur décrit l'état de développement de la formation en entreprise. Pour ce faire, il procède moins à un portrait statistique de la situation qu'à une analyse plus qualitative portant sur les usages que les firmes industrielles font des investissements en formation. S'appuyant sur une enquête menée dans quelques grandes entreprises du Québec, il présente une typologie des différents modes de relations construits entre la formation et le travail.


The question of in-plant training development has been the object of a recrudescence of interest in recent years. Appeals made to employers to invest in occupational training are more numerous and more pressing. This investment is a pledge to competitivity and to the future. Recent government policies in adult occupational training provide for financial support to in-plant training. In this paper, we describe the state of development of training in industry. We proceed not with a statistical analysis of the situation, but with a more qualitative analysis of the use by industrial firms of training investments. Relying on an investigation of a few large firms located in the Province of Quebec, we present a typology of relations between training and work.

Based on recent research on the relation between training and actual work and on the role of training in the development of firms, we elaborate three analytical dimensions in order to distinguish between four types of relations between training activities and the growth of firms: (1) the degree to which training has been institutionalised by the firm; (2) the degree of integration of training programs within the firms' policy and (3) the ways of recognition and consequences for the employees' participation in training programs.

Type 1. A Project to Accomplish

The first figure shows a situation where everything has to be done, where training is not strongly institutionalised and where activities are rare. In other words, the firms' commitment to the training department and the list of such activities are very limited. Training on the jobis the only effective activity.

Type 2. Training on Request

This training à la carterepresents situations where training is planned on a piece meal basis, following different departments' requests in a firm. It is a supply and demand situation. Training is minimally institutionalised whithin the firm since no service or department exist. There is often a single staff person charged with the task of organising and planning training activities. Training activities are very diversified. There is strong integration of training measures within the firm's policy, as they are taken on specifie request and for a particular group (like for draftsmen when the company is computerizing the drafting department, or for mechanics when a textile industry is automatizing, or for foremen when new programs of quality control are being introduced). There is no mechanism ensuring recognition of participation in training activities.

Type 3. Training as a Tool for Labour Force Adjustment and Planning

This third type describes the company that has developed important programs to retrain its manpower in a situation of major technical changes. Long-term activities were set up when the whole work force was affected by such changes.

Training has a strong involvement with the firm's development policy. This involvement is conceived in the short term (workers adaptation to recent technical changes and the retraining of these workers) as well as in the medium term (elaboration of policies associated with the implementation of new technology in for the coming years). In general, such firms are reluctant to lay off their employees. Access by current employees to new redefined tasks represents a first acknowledgment of participation in a training program.

Type 4. Training as a Negotiated and Integrated Tool for Career Planning This last type relies on a strong commitment to training policies by a firm or an establishment. This is characterized by the involvement of personnel management staff because the access to a new job or function is directly related to the candidate's success in particular tests and exams. There are two possible situations. In the first one, success on tests gives the employee the right to a job position. Training activities are then used strictly to qualify and to certify the employee's knowledge and ability to use a given manufacturing technique or to conform to strict labour norms. This is sometimes referred to as the principle of the «tradesman's card» or «competency card». In the second situation, successful test scores subsequent to training permits the candidate to be promoted. Training and career advancement according to the collective agreement are closely bound together.