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Choosing the right course for your professional development plan

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51% of those between 18 and 64 with a basic qualification have taken a course in the last 12 months. Whether forming part of a professional development plan or aiding a career change, both distance learning and evening classes are designed for company employees, freelancers, and job seekers. Taking a course is particularly helpful when it comes to speeding up a change of career, all while maintaining your work-life balance.

1/ Learning outside the workplace

Returning to education can be a project for a period of unemployment or following the mutually agreed termination of your previous employment contract. The advantage in these situations is your ability to dedicate 100% of your time to your course, as in the case of an EDHEC management training graduate who used his course as a springboard to start his own business. 

If you are interested in becoming a freelancer or consultant, or are looking for more technical training in the aim of a career change, these goals can also be pursued with training outside the workplace.

Full-time courses

An Advanced Vocational Diploma (Brevet de technicien supérieur) in negotiation and client relations, a University Diploma in Technology (Diplôme Universitaire de Technologie) focusing on sales, a master’s degree — your options for a return to education are many and varied.

However, full-time courses cannot be undertaken while in work. This explains the growing success of distance education via e-learning.

2/ Going back to education while remaining in work: a how-to

There are also solutions which allow you to resume your studies while retaining your position, meaning that you remain an active, reliable employee and continue to receive the same salary. This is the preferred option for 63% of professionals, who would rather strengthen their skills than changing the path of their careers, according to an OpinionWay study for EDHEC Online.

For your company, employee training is a driver of competitiveness and a means of dealing with the challenges of our changing market. A thoroughly well-organised and well-prepared-for training course will therefore meet with approval from your line manager.

Distance learning courses

The distance learning format allows you to return to education while continuing to work, even if you live abroad. E-learning courses are perceived to be the most flexible (79%) and practical (71%), found OpinionWay’s study for EDHEC Online.

To find the online training course which fits your professional development plan, compare those offered by The National Centre for Distance Education, online learning sites like Openclassrooms, and higher education bodies specialising in business and management. In this comparison, EDHEC courses are set apart by their focus on operational learning and application of learning points to realistic scenarios.

In addition, EDHEC courses offer the same high teaching quality in both face-to-face and distance learning courses, which also incorporate a degree of learner monitoring via virtual classes and regular coaching sessions. E-learning classes, taken in the evenings or at the weekend, allow you the freedom to organise your timetable to suit your needs, making it possible to combine learning and a job.

When making your choice, it is useful to highlight state-recognised diploma courses. The Online Management Development Programme offered by EDHEC Online, for example, is:

Evening classes

Evening classes are another way to gain new skills. They can be attended after working hours, in the evenings, or even on Saturday mornings, but must be attended in person.

Evening classes can provide skills training or specialist training, such as in preparation for a National Education competition or a CAP (Certificate of Professional Aptitude) in early years childcare. Management training evening classes are available at certain business schools.

Professional Transition Projects

Unlike distance learning courses or evening classes, a Professional Transition Project (PTP) is a full-time programme which prepares you for a career change through a year of training. Find out how to return to education while working with a PTP in our article about combining work and study.


Three out of five students do not successfully complete their bachelor’s or vocational degrees, according to a Ministry of National Education report. It is therefore understandable that employees of 25, 30, or 40 are looking to return to education and gain a diploma which corresponds to their skill-levels.


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