Recognition of prior learning (RPL) after 20 years of experience in industrial maintenance: "It's a lot of work, but it's worth it"
Mobility Work is launching a brand new series to highlight maintenance careers.
In this first episode, Anthony Blanchard, maintenance manager in the machining sector at FMGC (44), a subsidiary of Farinia Group specialized in foundry, tells us about his professional career, and shares his experience with Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL).
Mobility Work: Can you describe your educational background? How did you come to work in the industrial maintenance field?
Anthony Blanchard: The question of my career path was first raised by a career advisor, since my opportunities were relatively limited due to chaotic schooling. After that, I finally decided to opt for a manual career, which was rather frowned upon back then. I obtained my professional qualification in industrial maintenance in 1990.
I would have liked to pursue my career in order to obtain a high school diploma, but I couldn’t join a school. So I started working for 4 years, as a lathe operator, welder, butcher and even peeler in the food industry. In 1994, I chose to go back to maintenance, my first job. I joined a company that allowed me to join a apprenticeship centre for 2 years.
Can you briefly tell us about your various professional experiences?
From 1994 to 1999, I worked as an electromechanic at SBC Automation, a company specialized in the design of industrial machines. I was in charge to carry out preventive and corrective maintenance interventions for the pharmaceutical, agrifood industry, cardboard industries, etc.
Then I worked as a maintenance technician from 1999 to 2002 at Méca Atlantique, that was specialized in precision mechanics and large dimension machining. I was responsible for the maintenance of all numerical control machines.
I then joined a company called Carpenter as a maintenance technician from 2002 to 2007, which was specialized in the transformation of packaging foams. I was in charge of maintaining all the equipment and hydraulic presses, of automation and its integration, of compliance update, and of improving production performance.
Finally, in 2007 I joined Euro Mécanique as a maintenance technician, a company specialized in precision mechanics and machining of cast iron counterweights up to 20 tons. I was in charge of maintaining all the CNC machines and the NC Num, Fanuc and Heidenaim buildings. After Euro Mécanique merged with FMGC, a subsidiary of Farinia Group specialized in foundry, I kept the same position with some additional responsibilities related to the implementation of CMMS software.
I am now a machining maintenance manager at FMGC.
Why did you choose to do a RPL?
My main objective was to have all my skills and knowledge acquired after many years of experience validated by a state diploma.
It is important to understand that RPL is a very personal decision. The choice of the degree must match the skills and knowledge acquired over many years of experience. These skills and knowledge are part of a reference framework, and must be explained and proven describing projects in a thesis, which has to be validated a jury composed of experts in the field of maintenance. The title of the diploma was: "Licence professionnelle mention : Maintenance des systèmes pluritechniques - Spécialité : Management des services maintenance". I obtained this diploma in June 2016 thanks to a RPL.
The objective of the license is to train managers who can perform tasks as maintenance department manager or maintenance team leader, and more broadly technical service.
The training focuses on deepening scientific and technological knowledge and training in management practices, project management, team leadership, methods related to industrialization studies and processes, systems diagnostics, environmental management and industrial risk management.
How did it feel to be back to school after 20 years working in the industry?
This was a real challenge for me because it requires a significant personal investment. I was helped by the Technological University Institute of St Nazaire (Brittany) over a short period of time, and over 7 days spread over a year. So I can't really say I actually went back to school.
However, I had to work on my thesis on my free time, during the week, on weekends or during my holidays. It is important to be able to isolate yourself and to step back. It’s a lot of work, but it's worth it.
Did your employer accompany you in this process?
My employer accompanied me by financing this project.
What do you think are the main strengths and weaknesses of this training?
I would not mention any particular strength or weakness. This training requires above all a very great motivation, and implies a lot of writing in order to describe your professional and school career.
They say that the current educational level has dropped, what do you think about it?
This is my personal opinion, but I would say that the diploma I obtained in 1990 corresponds to one to two years of college nowadays. Also, it might be useful for certain (technical) individuals from the French Ministry of National Education to integrate training within our industries in order to acquire a better knowledge regarding this topic and to be able to transmit it better to the new generation?
It is very difficult to find maintenance personnel, what do you think is the cause?
Manual and field careers have been denigrated for many years. People are no longer interested in this sector, and we now have to pick up the pieces. Unfortunately, this observation does not only apply to maintenance jobs. We are nevertheless observing a slight surge of interest for manual jobs: some managers of industrial groups are going to meet these young people in their schools in order to promote our jobs which are difficult but also very interesting.
Thank you to Mr. Blanchard for his testimony. To be alerted of our next articles dedicated to maintenance careers, follow us on our social media!