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Successfully acquiring qualifications through experience

Les incontournables pour réussir sa VAE
Published on
20 June 2019

Acquiring a degree or recognized accreditation for prior experience (known as APEL) can be the key to opening new doors. Whether you’re changing careers or looking to climb your current career ladder, earning an APEL provides formal recognition of existing skills.

“The law requires education organizations to offer support for qualifications earned on the basis of prior learning and experience. As a result, GEM must offer individualized support for candidates,” explains Véronique Girod-Roux, head of development and governance for GEM prior learning qualifications (APEL - accreditation of prior experiential learning).

An APEL must always include two sections: first, a clearly defined path to achieve the APEL and second, individualized support from start to finish. GEM offers personalized support for a duration of 24 hours. An APEL can also now be obtained in one go or over a period of several years.

Another added value at GEM is the precise framework that guides the final objective of earning an APEL within a year (versus the 18 month maximum recommended by law). This additional fact encourages the motivation of the candidate and helps organize objectives within a set timeframe. This timeframe is an added advantage as an earning an APEL can be a demanding experience that requires determination. However, despite the challenge, it’s definitely a worthy goal for many profiles.

Why earn an APEL?

  • To gain recognition for professional experience and open the door to managerial functions.
  • To highlight new skills developed as part of a change of career.
  • To earn GEM’s Grande Ecole degree in recognition of a highly qualified career. “Not all French business schools offer the opportunity to earn a Grande Ecole degree. GEM generally approves one such APEL per year,” explains Véronique.
  • To obtain an Advanced Master’s which is recognized by the Conférence des Grandes Ecole and underlines expertise in a specific field. “It’s the only training program of this level in France that can be earned by APEL,” adds Véronique.

Who can earn an APEL?

“All types of profiles can begin an APEL process at Grenoble Ecole de Management. For example, professionals in their 50s can earn recognition for older degrees that no longer correspond to current degree formats. APELs can also be perfect for workers looking to open the door to managerial responsibilities. If a company’s degree requirements for management positions prevent a worker from moving up the ladder, APEL is right path. Young professionals who wish to change careers as well as stay at home mothers and fathers can use APEL to earn recognition for their engagement and skills in social activities such as associations, unions or humanitarian causes.  All of these profiles can apply for a GEM APEL, in particular via the short term certificate programs that can validate specific skills,” says Véronique.

It’s important to add that GEM APEL students have access to the same services as other students, namely the library, career services and the alumni network.

How to organize your APEL?

  1. Set aside time: “You have to adapt your schedule for an entire year, including weekends and vacations in order to successfully complete an APEL,” underlines Véronique.
  2. Plan ahead: “In order to choose the right APEL path, you have to list and analyze all professional, associative and personal resources over the past year that could contribute to your prior experience. This includes your professional, personal and family networks, which can help confirm a given choice.”
  3. Check quality: It’s essential to check the quality of the teaching at the institution of your choice. To do so, it’s often best to visit several institutions and meet with their representatives.
  4. Stay local: Avoid launching an APEL with an institution that is far away as this will limit access to support services.
  5. Evaluate your APEL institution: List and evaluate the reasons why you wish to choose a specific school or university (reputation, image, rankings, etc.).
  6. Prepare your budget: APELs are important investments (e.g., 6,000 euros at GEM). As a result, it’s essential to be on the same page as your supporting organization before launching the process.

More about APELs at GEM

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