EMCC European Monitoring Centre on Change

Occupations and skills observatories

Phase: Anticipation
  • Provision of labour market information
  • Recognition of informal and non-formal training
  • Social Dialogue
Last modified: 03 August, 2021
Име (на собств. език):

Observatoires prospectifs des métiers et des qualifications (OPMQ)

Име на английски:

Occupations and skills observatories


Coverage extends to all professional branches. Each observatory covers at least one specific professional branch and their sphere of competence may be national, regional or local. Many of these observatories cover a single professional branch, but some also deal with several professional branches. Their coverage varies from 10 to 450,000 companies and from fewer than 1,000 to 1.5 million jobs. One example of an observatory covering several professional branches is Observia, the occupations and skills observatory for the food industry, covering up to 17 national collective agreements.

Main characteristics

The national cross-industry agreement of 5 December 2003 called for the implementation of observatories in each occupational sector. The French Law n°2004-391 legally enshrines their existence. Their primary purpose is to help firms anticipate their skill requirements, to support employees in mapping out their career paths and to equip the various actors in an industry with the tools to draw up their employment and training policy.

They also analyse and anticipate the impact of economic, technological, regulatory or demographic trends on employment and in terms of training needs. In doing so, they provide training providers with information on required skills and help them anticipate the future needs of the sector.

The social partners at inter-industry level have chosen not to define precisely how these organisations should function (status, remit, funding etc.). As a result there is a wide diversity of such observatories in terms of legal status, composition and even the way the structures are funded.

With a few exceptions, the observatories do not have their own separate legal identity. Most of them are described as ‘jointly managed bodies’ that form part of either a jointly administered industry organisation (OPCO) or an employers’ organisation, providing the technical, logistical and human support essential to their functioning. Half of the observatories employ only one person (and not always full-time).

Although they operate in a variety of different ways, the observatories are very similar in terms of activities and outputs. They generally produce statistical databases, mapping/listing of occupations, surveys and analyses on a wide range of themes including forward-looking jobs and skills management, training, recruitment needs, age management, and certification schemes. Such outputs serve as a basis for drawing up recommendations and formulating actions and practical tools for use by firms and workers in the industry in question.

The activities of the observatories can help to clarify the human resource management policy of the firms and contribute to a perspective of anticipating restructuring. In doing so, they act as an interface between the branch and the firms.


  • Social partners (jointly)

Involved actors

Employer or employee organisations
Set up and managed by representatives of the firms and unions ; competencies operators (opérateurs de compétences, OPCO).


In 2020, there were 135 observatories in France. Three quarters of the observatories were set up by industry agreements between 2004 and 2006 and the rest from 2007 onwards.

Their value in securing the career paths for employees by providing better information and vocational guidance was reaffirmed in another national cross-industry agreement from 2009.


Compared with consultants commissioned to produce forecasts, the occupations and skills observatories are permanent organisations with a long-term approach. A key strength of this model includes an agreed methodology stimulating social dialogue as the observatories are established and administered jointly by the social partners.


Their positioning is yet to be improved as they lack visibility and their usefulness is poorly known. Besides, these observatories require tools and human resources to be in a position to fulfil their mission which are not always available.


Insurance business observatory; observatory of household services; Observatoire des métiers de la banque (banking sector observatory)
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