A social business driving school

A social business driving school

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In Lyon, the AMEJ, a new social business driving school taken over by Apprentis d’Auteuil in late 2013, helps young people between the ages of 18 and 25 who are looking for a job, to get a driving licence.

Lyon, a morning in December, just outside the Part-Dieu train station. On the first floor of an imposing building, a group of around ten young adults are preparing for the Highway Code test. The lesson focuses on the differences between thinking, braking and stopping distances, which can be difficult concepts to grasp. To help his learner drivers understand the subtleties of the exercise, driving instructor Samir Inhid uses by turns, diagrams, comparisons and repetition. A winning strategy.

A driving licence: opening the doors to employment

Since January 2014, 150 learner drivers have benefited from the teaching methods used by the AMEJ (Association for Mobility and Youth Employment) social business driving school, which Apprentis d’Auteuil took over in October 2013. The goal is to obtain a driving licence, which will open the doors to employment, with specific support, reduced cost (€600 instead of €1200 on average) and shorter deadlines. Road safety demands are high and so is the driving test, it is increasingly difficult to pass a driving test. Apprentis d’Auteuil decided to acquire this business, which promotes youth employment, as mobility is one of the key factors for long-term integration.

Tailored teaching

Most of our students left the school system a long time ago’, says Samir Inhid. We must tailor our teaching to their needs by giving a lot of explanation. With my three colleagues, we encourage the students, listen to them and take into account their personal circumstances. We organize mock tests every week. The learner drivers are highly motivated. They come from various backgrounds (young people doing work-based training, job seekers looking for vocational work). This morning learners are taking a test paid for by Arcelor Mittal, as part of a ‘revitalisation convention’. They all share the urgent need to have a driving licence to find a job. Take Ambre, for example, she is looking for a job at a bakery and must get up early in the morning, and Julie, who holds a CAP certificate in childcare.

Not having a driving licence is an obstacle to getting a job for 18-25 year-olds’, confirms Director Nadia Ghazzale. Our main goal of course is for learners to pass the test but by reducing the time needed to sit the test, they stay motivated. Too many students drop out along the way. Thanks to an exemption from the Equal Opportunities Prefect, we have just obtained extra test slots.’  

Intensive Driving course

To obtain the licence offered by AMEJ, candidates are assessed on arrival, to determine the number of hours needed to pass the test: 80 lessons at least for the Highway Code and the same for the practical driving test. The school has been running this programme for several months in sessions with 10 to 20 students of similar levels. 

The driving theory course is divided into three parts: five weeks of classes for a period of three hours over four half-days, two weeks of assessments and classes and finally, three half-days per week, until they sit the Highway Code test at the test centre. Code in hand, they can start to learn to drive. At AMEJ, two students at a time per vehicle, one at the wheel, the other watching. The Association has four vehicles. Recently, the learner drivers have been welcomed several mornings per week in the annex buildings of Rillieux-la-Pape, Vaulx-en-Velin and Villeurbanne, social and geographic diversity being part of the driving school’s integration mission. Most of the applicants at referred to AMEJ by the local mission. There are many changes on the horizon for the Association this year. For example, AMEJ would like to take on more learner drivers, not just 18-25 year-olds. They are also trying to find new funding to upgrade their premises and, more importantly, they are looking to improve upon their already very positive results. PERSONAL ACCOUNT by Ketsia Rechal, mother of two children aged 6 and 12. She has just got her driving licence.

Having your driving licence changes your life! I heard about AMEJ from a friend of mine. I was closely monitored throughout my course. It is a truly remarkable driving school. One day, we went on a "school trip", which enabled a group of us to go to Aix-les-Bains for a full day. No need to say how motivating that was! All of a sudden, I can now change my career – my plan is to sell semi-precious stones in local markets and offer at-home massages. "Without a driving licence, none of this would have been possible".

Apprentis d’Auteuil is a deeply committed catholic foundation, recognized as promoting the public interest in France and in more than 50 countries. Thanks to the expertise and experience of the foundation and their partners, Apprentis d’Auteuil have been able to supervise more than 23.000 children in France and almost 20.000 children and families worldwide. Its main goal is to help youth in difficulty by conducting educational projects and to boost their ability to participate in society as full-fledged citizens by promoting training and insertion programs worldwide. In addition to their actions towards helping vulnerable children, Apprentis d’Auteuil and their partners assist struggling parents in their family obligations, with coeducation as the guiding principle. The key purpose is to improve the management of children under their care and to enable them to grow as free and responsible adults. To make a donation for education – Please contact the foundation for underprivileged children Apprentis d’Auteuil.