head contact

Turning Factories into Learning-Oriented Factories

Usine Nouvelle
Usine Nouvelle


The industrial system in France hardly recovered from global competition and carried out relocations without due care ; this led to shutting down manufacturing Factories whose manual jobs are definitely so useful for poorly trained populations or populations weakened due to disability.

Germany behaved in a totally different manner as they favored collective decision-making processes based on social dialog and on the transmission of knowledge and know-how, therefore permitting that when taking actions for remaining competitive, the employees in Factories would be used as adjustment variables, as a last resort, and as a first resort this role would be played by the labor costs, the housing costs as well as the production volume logic. Thus between 1995 and 2015, the volume of these jobs in the industry sticked to around 25 percent in Germany but fell down to 13% in France.



Is there any chance that employment logic for the French industry be reversed ?

This could be the case if undertaking a paradigm shift and following the German model. AMIPI experience actually prove that this is possible.

It appeared in 2002 that closing our Factories could not be avoided as our automotive waring activity was mainly a manual activity.

But for AMIPI, the industrial activity is a means not an end; from the very beginning, AMIPI was conceived as an organization encouraging customized learning and giving the possibility to "some people with cognitive disabilities to develop their physical and intellectual skills and to be socially integrated via professional activities in so-called normal environments1.

AMIPI was recognized as a Public Utility Foundation due to their investigational scientific contributions and could continue their activities thanks to the coordinated and active support of our customers, the employees, the trade unions, the scientists and the officials in link with labour administrations.

For example, the CSR2 of our customers such as PSA, Renault, Plastic Omnium, Faurecia, Flex-N-Gate gave the possibility to develop AMIPI activities in the interest of the populations faced with cognitive disabilities in Nantes, Cholet, Angers, Le Mans, Tours, Blois. 

This very strong development generated 300 renewed jobs for 830 employees including 700 disabled workers and enabled 86 successful insertions which meant €22.1 million spared public spending.

This momentum tells us that the issue represented by the competitiveness shall be considered from a macro-economic point of view by comparing the total target costs vs the unemployment costs. This type of analysis is profitable for both parties.


Stop shutting down the factories, instead turn them out into UPAI3 !

Our new factory in Nantes Métropole started producing the 21 August. We named it UPAI Maurice Vendre, as a tribute to our founder, UPAI stands for Usine de Production, d'Apprentissage et d'Insertion (Production, Apprenticeship and Insertion Plant).

This path taken by the AMIPI is probably a path that the managers concerned with territories development should explore.

These UPAIs are learning-oriented factories that make the populations feel like taking them up again considering the social value they represent. They try to incorporate whenever possible, either with Industrial partners or with the CSR of French big companies. As such these AMIPIs give the possibility to think about labour costs issues as a possible "industrial system for everyone" in which insertion results from therapeutic virtues via adapted learning.

This system benefits to the whole society thanks to the reconciliation of both corporate and trade union forces - also thanks to neurosciences contribution - by coping with the actual costs due to exclusion. As such, the meaning of work is not the same as a similar activity simultaneously enables the conception of good quality products and the development of the persons. This is what the Foundation calls a dual approach.

This project may be implemented everywhere, as long as willfulness and unfailing collective organizations exist. This is not utopia: just consider that in Germany they managed to implement this system.

So do we have any choice but this one.

Jean-Marc Richard
Chairman of AMIPI-Bernard VENDRE Foundation, on behalf of the Board of Directors and of the Friends of the Foundation


1 Article 1 in AMIPI Bernard VENDRE Foundation articles of association
2 Corporate Social Responsibility
3 UPAI: Plant for Production, Apprenticeship and Insertion