The Administrative and Consular Affairs Training Institute (IFAAC)

Our goal: provide continuous training for personnel responsible for consular affairs and the management/accounting of French embassies and consulates:

  • “operational training emphasizing professional simulations”
  • “high trainer quality; their availability and the quality of exchanges”
  • “vital training for in-depth knowledge of consular work and working methods”; comments from staff trained by IFAAC.

IFAAC overview

IFAAC was created in 1993 to train Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MAE) staff in consular work in an increasingly technical professional context. It is part of the Training Unit within the Training and Competitions Department of the Human Resources Directorate.
IFAAC was created for two purposes:

  • train staff in increasingly complex tasks;
  • ensure quality public service for the 2.5 million French citizens abroad.

More than 6000 staff have been trained in Nantes over 20 years. In 2013, 500 staff participated in 65 training courses organized in the consular field (reception of the public, administration of French nationals abroad, civil registry, nationality, social affairs, elections, notarial services, visas) and in accounting and management. These training courses can take place before a first posting abroad or throughout a professional career.

IFAAC also provides continuous training for Ministry staff in Nantes in other fields, including foreign languages, office software, management, and professional skills.

Continuous training with an interactive focus

IFAAC aims to strengthen the theoretical and practical skills of Ministry staff to help them carry out their work efficiently and to a high standard.

The training method used is based on:

  • a team of eight “vocational” trainers, with solid field experience and trainer training;
  • small group training, emphasizing simulations, case studies and teamwork.

To perfect the operational nature of this training, IFAAC recently created two training consulates. These are integrated with training rooms and facilitate simulation learning, helping staff to prepare concretely for relations with users throughout training.

The Institute also draws on innovative teaching methods. It has chosen an innovative training environment, developed in American higher education and called “SCALE UP”. This Student-Centred Active Learning Environment has been adopted by several institutions including MIT. It was recently introduced in France by ESSCA, the Angers school of management. It emphasizes interactivity to improve learning and teamwork ability. The Ministry is the first French administration to have this type of room.

The choice of names for the SCALE UP rooms, “Marianne” and “Le Belem” illustrates both the public service spirit, the "training consulate" dimension and the preparation for other cultures.

The organization of consular training

The training delivered at IFAAC is either multi-purpose or dedicated to a particular subject. The duration of training courses varies between one and twelve weeks.

Multi-purpose training courses have three levels:

  • level I lasts a total of 12 weeks (360 hours of training overall) and is aimed at staff of grades “catégorie B” and “catégorie C”, who obtain a common foundation in the consular field and accounting and management.
  • Level I is certified with a diploma, the “brevet d’administration et d’affaires consulaires appliqués” (BAACA, certificate in administration and applied consular affairs), assessed based on coursework.
  • Level II is aimed at experienced “catégorie B” staff, providing them with a refresher of their consular knowledge.
  • Level III is aimed at “catégorie A” staff for their first posting abroad as head of consular post or deputy consul and tackles both consular issues and accounting and management.

In 2013, 30 multi-purpose courses were organized at IFAAC for 134 trainees.

For these three types of training, the curriculum is varied. Classes delivered by IFAAC trainers dedicate significant time to exercises, case studies and simulations (polling station, reception of the public, and hearings prior to weddings). These are supplemented by visits and contributions from Ministry services and other administrations (Ministry of the Interior, or Finance, etc.). External consultants also regularly contribute on subjects such as management and user relations.

Learning at IFAAC is facilitated by assistance and solidarity between trainees. A genuine esprit de corps is forged within groups, facilitated by the fact that they are housed in the Villa Chantreau, the accommodation centre situated on the Ministry’s site. This training thus remains a key step in staff careers.

Specific training courses are open to all categories of MAE staff, including local staff working in our embassies and consulates abroad. These training courses can take place before a first posting abroad or throughout a professional career.

Courses lasting one or two weeks are offered in “administering French nationals abroad”, “elections”, “notarial services”, “civil registry”, “nationality”, “social affairs”, “visas”, “reception of the public”, “accounting” and “management”. 34 courses of this type were held in 2013, for 357 staff.

Continuous non-consular training for Ministry staff in Nantes

The role of IFAAC also involves delivering continuous general and language training for staff based at the Ministry’s site in Nantes.
Thus every year, 1200 staff enjoy language training (7 modern languages taught) and general training, including courses in office software, public accounting, management and public speaking. In all, some 250 courses are organized by IFAAC each year.

Updated: December 2013

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