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Training of diplomats and personnel

The Diplomatic and Consular Institute (IDC)

The IDC is made up of two levels: an initial training session and a mid-career training course

General framework

The Diplomatic and Consular Institute of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MAE) was inaugurated on 6 April 2010, with the opening of a first session of compulsory initial training for new MAE staff of “catégorie A” (top level) grade.

The creation of the IDC was a response to the two-fold observation made by the “White Paper on France’s Foreign and European Policy" (July 2008). It highlighted the lack of initial training at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, as well as the insufficient training of experienced diplomats reaching senior management posts.

The establishment of the IDC was preceded by a long period of reflection within the Directorate-General for the Administration. The project was announced by the Minister on 25 March 2009 and was the subject of an in-depth study in the framework of a planning mission (report by Ms Sophie Lovy-Laszlo, June 2009), in which a large number of personnel and union organizations were involved. The IDC is made up of two levels: an initial training session and a mid-career training course

Initial training course

This training programme was created in 2010. In 2013, the fourth session trained 68 people. The fifth session will last 14 weeks, from April to July 2014.

The main goals attributed to the annual initial training session are team cohesion and the esprit de corps, raising the awareness of new staff to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ working culture, and the acquisition of early professional knowledge.

Aimed at staff recruited for the most part via a very academically focused competition, the initial training session is essentially focused on practice, skills and the sharing of experience. It requires a participatory teaching approach and makes wide use of peer training. On completion of their initial programme, trainees should have acquired solid basic knowledge on their administrative environment and on the missions and values of the Ministry (including teamwork, best practice and deontology)

This session lasts three-and-a-half months, offering modules with a variety of content: organization and functioning of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (working tools, diplomatic drafting, security, deontology), presentation of jobs at the Quai d’Orsay (negotiation, budget management and accounting, communication, crisis management), outreach on individual, collective and professional issues linked to the diplomatic career, thematic modules (European and legal dimensions, multilateral matters, global issues, Franco-German and Franco-British modules, consular issues in liaison with the Administrative and Consular Affairs Training Institute – IFAAC), practices of French diplomacy, and public speaking. The session programme also allows trainees to participate actively through simulation exercises and practical workshops in subgroups. The initial training session is marked by the need for openness. It has a major Franco-German component (two trips are organized in 2014, jointly with the Germany Foreign Service Academy: in Berlin, during the spring, and Brussels during the summer) as well as a joint programme with the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO), which will take place this year in Paris, 16-20 June.

A major module dedicated to economic and trade diplomacy is also on the programme.

Language training is a full component of this session, with emphasis on perfecting levels of English. This is not at the expense of multilingualism, as language training of new staff goes far beyond the strict framework of the IDC session. New staff commit, for the duration of their first posting to central administration, to follow classes in one or two languages which correspond to the needs and interests of the Ministry.

The training programme is compulsory. The session leads to no grading or validation certificate, but staff participation in the different practical workshops and group work is assessed and taken into account, notably in the framework of tenure decisions for those of them who are concerned by this procedure.

Training takes place on the various Ministry sites in the Paris region (including the La Courneuve diplomatic cluster, La Convention site, and the Quai d’Orsay site) and in Nantes.

Continuous training: mid-career course

A first session of mid-career training was launched in October 2011. This course is aimed at staff with on average 15 years of service who take up, for the first time following a return to central administration, roles as Deputy Directors, Heads of Department or Head of Unit. It contributes to creating a pool of staff exercising upper management roles within the Ministry. The list of trainees is decided each year by the Human Resources Directorate, which informs the selected staff. This training course aims in particular to strengthen the managerial skills and leadership capacities of diplomats, as well as to deepen their knowledge on the priority areas of our international action (including economic diplomacy, soft diplomacy, security and defence, European affairs, and climate change).

It combines group training modules and personalized support for staff. In this respect, the possibility for individual coaching to promote full expression of trainee potential has been developed. The personalized dimension of this training programme also involves language training, with assessment of language skills and the proposal of an individual training offer.

This training is also a major event for diplomats themselves who, in addition to a first personal assessment, will also enjoy assistance and support for their later career and their next posting with high responsibilities.

It remains compatible with the professional commitments of trainees and is dispensed over three years, corresponding to the average duration of a posting to central administration. It is organized in the form of practical modules (1-2 days – 3 at most), with 6-7 modules per year.

This mid-career skills programme now counts three classes which are pursuing their training alongside their work, totalling 59 staff.

Updated: January 2014

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