France: Working conditions of young entrants to the labour market

  • Observatory: EurWORK
  • Topic:
  • Jobkvalitet,
  • Published on: 18 december 2013


Disclaimer: This information is made available as a service to the public but has not been edited by the European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions. The content is the responsibility of the authors.

Young entrants working conditions are worst than their older counterparts: difficulties to enter the labour market, precarious forms of jobs... These working conditions depend highly on the education level, but also on the economic sectors. The new government, social partners and companies are currently taking many initiatives that could improve these conditions. Young people who left the education system without qualification are specifically targeted. It remains very important that these initiatives (education, training…) focus on the most promising sectors instead of creating “artificial” jobs that could not be sustained without subsidies, and then lead to further precarious working conditions.


This EWCO CAR is specifically focused on the group of “young entrants to the labour market”. This group includes all young people (between 15 and 30 years old) who have recently entered into the labour market (i.e., people with a work experience shorter than 1-2 years in the labour market), with relative independence of their age and for whom work is their main and core activity. This definition excludes young people for whom studies are their main activity but who combine their studies with some remunerated activity as part of their training programmes (e.g. apprenticeships in dual systems), as well as unemployed young people, even if they are actively looking for a job (see Background note for more detailed information on the concept of young entrants to be considered in the research).

The CAR coordinating team is conscious that such as “narrow” definition of “young entrants to the labour market” can make difficult the identification and collection of relevant information on the topic. Therefore, and in the case no national information is available using this “narrow” definition, National Correspondents can use a “proxy” definition of “young entrant to the labour market” as any young person (i.e. between 15 and 30 years old) who is in employment, irrespectively of the number of years of experience that he/she has in the labour market (again, unemployed young people are excluded from the analysis).

The questionnaire focuses on the following topics:

  • General description and characterisation of the main current working conditions of young entrants to the labour market in your country in comparison to other age groups (around 700 words)

  • Identification and characterisation of existing differences in working conditions within the group of young entrants to the labour market in your country (around 600 words)

  • Evolution of working conditions of young entrants to the labour market in the last five years. Effects of the economic crisis (around 500 words)

  • Initiatives taken by national governments/social partners in order to improve employment levels and working conditions of young entrants to the labour market (around 500 words)

  • Final commentary on the main results (around 100 words)

Block 1: General description and characterisation of the main current working conditions of young entrants to the labour market in your country in comparison to other age groups

In this study, we are using a “proxy” definition of “young entrant to the labour market” as any young person (i.e. between 15 and 30 years old) who is in employment, irrespectively of the number of years of experience that he/ she has in the labour market (unemployed young people are excluded from the analysis). It also excludes (as far as possible) young people for whom studies are their main activity but who combine their studies with some remunerated activity as part of their training programmes (e.g. apprenticeships in dual systems).

1.1 Career and employment security issues

The working conditions of young entrants are marked by a context of high unemployment rate and, for many of them, a period of precarious jobs before enjoying a stable situation.


According to the Directorate for Research, Studies ad Statistics (DARES - Direction de l’animation de la recherche des etudes et des statistiques (‘Employment and unemployment of young aged 15-29 years in 2011’, DARES analyses, December 2012, N°090, 17pp) 54.8% of young people from 15 to 29 years of age in France were on the labour market in 2011: 45.5 % were employed while 9.3% where unemployed. Since 2008, the unemployment rate of young people (17% in 2011) has been around 8 points higher than that of the total active population (9% in 2011). There had been no such gap since 1975.

The Directorate for Research, Studies and Statistics - DARES – is a directorate of the central French public administration depending on the Ministry of work, employment, vocational training and social dialogue. It builds and analyses statistics on the labour market in France. It is attached to the French National Institute for Statistics and Economic Studies (INSEE) and is independent from the government for its publications.

According to the National Institute for Statistics and Economic Studies (INSEE) –“ La Hausse du taux de chômage se poursuit au quatrième semester 2012” Informations rapides, Principaux indicateurs, 7 march 2013- N°55 (‘The Rise of unemployment rate continues at the last quarter of 2012’ - general and regular information on employment figures by the INSEE),the unemployment rate of the 15-24 years age class was of 25.7 % at the last quarter of 2012, compared to a rate of 10.2 % for the total population. However, one has to note that this high figure can be misleading because of a very low activity rate in France (7,1%) – studying period is relatively long in France and few students work during there studies – and the fact that these active young people are mainly the ones with the lower education and experience level. (See: INSEE 2009 report on training and employment).

INSEE - National Institute for Statistics and Economic Studies- has been created through the finance law of the 27 April 1946. It is a public body (a general directorate of the Ministry of Economy and Finances). It is independent through the creation in 2008 of the Authority of public statistic. It builds and analyses statistic, collects data on demography, employment, working/ life conditions, social issues, enterprises…

Precarious working conditions

The 2011 EIRO CAR study on “helping young workers during the crisis” (FR1101011Q), underlined that a large proportion of young workers are not hired on regular employment terms, but as interns, on short-term contracts, or as temporary agency workers. It quoted the Gerard Fonouni comments explaining that “young workers are not seen as a human resource, but a cheap and flexible transitional solution”. As a consequence, young people do not manage to get a real first professional experience and, for the same reason, in times of economic crisis, employers are reluctant to take the risk to invest in the monitoring of young workers and prefer hiring people who are already experienced.

This phenomenon can be observed by the extension of “fake” internships, volunteering and subsidised jobs.

“Fake” internships : As they have difficulties to find a job, many young people accept to get employed as “intern” in order to get a first experience while they are already graduates and are entitled to a normal job. It is difficult to evaluate the number of these “fake” internships, but the situation was serious enough which led the government to strengthen the regulation of internships through the “Cherpion Law” of 28 July 2011 (FR1111011I). This strengthening of this regulation faces two main challenges: the difficulty to check that training institutions or companies do not deliver “accommodation” internship conventions and the fact that the government can see these “internships” as a way to reduce unemployment figures. See: ‘L’emploi des jeunes’, Jean-Baptiste Prévost, Les avis du conseil économique, social et environnemental, september 2012. pp27 - Publication by the French Economic, Social and Environmental Council – CESE.

The French Economic, Social and Environmental Council – CESE- is a constitutional consultative assembly. It fosters the collaboration between different socio-professional categories and ensures their participation to the definition and evaluation of public policies. Its aim is to advise the government.

Volunteering: Young people also have to resort to volunteering in order to enter the labour market. And again, they do not benefit from the same conditions as their counterparts who have a “normal” job.

Subsidised jobs: According to the ‘National Institute for Statistics and Economic Studies’ (Information/ figure webpage ‘Youth under 26 years old involved in employment policy measure in 2011’) in 2011, 25.3% of the jobs occupied by young people aged less than 26 where subsidised jobs. However, one has to note that 65% of these subsidised jobs are in the frame of “apprentissage” (apprenticeship) dual system-, and 25% are “contrats de professionnalisation”, i.e. also dual system. The number of subsidised job (excluded “apprentissage”) has been reduced from 66 000 in 2008 to 15 000 in 2011 for private and for profit organisations but rose from 30 000 (2008) to 51 000 in 2011 (with a pick of 68 000 in 2010). These jobs can be a good opportunity for young people to enter the labour market, but several limits have been observed. Firstly, as underlined in the 2011 EIRO CAR study, French policy markers “have been too hasty in introducing too many efforts i.e. they have introduced new schemes and abandoned previous initiatives before it was possible to assess their mid-term impact. The fact that the number of youth employment schemes introduced over the past 30 years exceeds 80 serves to highlight this point”. Secondly,the report ‘effet des emplois jeunes sur les trajectoires professionnelles’ Bernard Gomel, Alberto Lopez, connaissance de l’emploi, le 4 pages du CEE n° 94 (effects of the ‘employment for youngs package’ on the professional careers) by the Centre d’études de l’emploi (CEE- Center for employment studies), July 2012 shows that young people who entered the labour market through these subsidised jobs are then less paid than their counterparts (as they started their carrier with lower remuneration), and that experience acquired during this period is far from being fully recognised by current employers.

CEE- Center for Employment Studies is an interdisciplinary research center in Social Sciences specialized in employment, working and social protection. This public body is attached to the Ministry of research and Ministry of work and employment.

The recent initiatives on subsidized jobs mostly aimed at better targeting the young that have more difficulties, i.e. with the lower education level and coming from “sensible areas” and at better monitoring these young (during and after his contract). (see EIRO CAR study hereabove). See also: DARES, les contrats d’aide à l’emploi en 2011 (‘Supported work contracts in 2011’).

The “auto-entrepreneur” status: This status has been created to facilitate the creation of business and self-employment. Young people under 24 years old represent 10% of the total number of auto-entrepreneurs. It could offer a good opportunity for talented young people to create a successful business. But it is also, in many cases, the only way to get “employed” and leads to precarious situations: young people do not always manage to negotiate the remuneration they should get to compensate the fact that there is no employment security. It is also not easy for inexperienced people to set up their own business. Furthermore, this status can lead to unsatisfying working conditions: they generally work at home, by themselves, without proper supervision. It has been observed that few “auto-entrepreneur” manage to earn the minimum wage (SMIC): Source: ‘Trois auto-entrepreneurs sur quatre n’auraient pas créé d’entreprise sans ce régime’ (Three out of four self-entrepreneurs would not have created a compagny without this regime’), INSEE Première, n° 1388, February 2012).

Extension of interim, underemployment and temporary contracts:

According to the French Observatory of Inequalities, ‘Evolution of the employment precariousness depending of the age’17 August 2012 (webpage), the extension of precarious jobs among young people is a long term trend: the job insecurity for young entrants increased from 16 to 47% between the 1980’ and the mid 2000’, while it rose from 5 to 10% for the average population.

The French Observatory for Inequalities (Observatoire des inégalités) is an independent body for analyses and information on inequalities.

According to the study ‘Diagnostic on the employment of youths’, Conseil d’Orientation pour l’Emploi (Employment orientation board), 10 Februar 2011, p16, today, more than 5% of young people (15-29 years) are working as temporary workers (compared to 3% for the total population), and 26% have a fixed term contract (compared to 10% for the total active population). More than 40% of young people who work part time would like to work more.

  • Conseil d’Orientation pour l’Emploi (Employment Orientation Board) is a body of expertise and dialogue about employment issues. It has been created in 2005 by the government and is attached to the Prime Minister. It gathers social partners, Members of Parliament, local authorities representatives, directors of concerned administration and public bodies, and experts. Its reports and recommendations are communicated to the Parliament and published.

Today, even if work flexibility is rising in every field, the French system remains characterized by the fact that a large part of the population benefits from good working conditions and safe employment (in general people between 30 and 55 years old, with a certain level of education, who are able to defend their rights), and another part (most of young entrant but also a large part of seniors) that remains precarious. (see for instance: ‘Les jeunes: un rapport singulier au travail ? Une tentative pour déconstruire le mythe de l’opposition entre les ages’, Beatrice Delay, September 2008 (working paper). –Young people: a specific attitude toward work? An attempt to deconstruct the myth of age opposition’). (CEE)

Drop in status

The deterioration of the labour market leads many young people to accept « lower » job positions than what they could expect. They prefer these jobs which are easier to access and more stable, instead of remaining unemployed. The extension of this drop in status varies according to the type of graduation: Between 10 and 15% of young graduates from higher education are objectively or subjectively dropped in status. The perceived drop in status is stronger in France that in the rest of the E.U: more than 4/10 young entrants consider that their qualification could allow them to work in a more challenging job (Centre d’études et de recherches sur les qualification- Center for Studies and Research on Qualifications – CEREQ -, le déclassement des jeunes sortant du supérieur – ‘Professional downgrading of young people graduated in higher education’) (CEREQ information webpage – base on the ‘generation studies’ of the CEREQ).

The Centre for Studies and Research on Qualifications (CEREQ) is a research centre specialized in the relation between qualification and employment (for 40 years). It is public body attached to the Ministry of National Education and the Ministry of Work, Employment, Vocational training and Social Dialogue. See also its publications in English.

According to a study by the CREDOC, (‘ Barometer of Social cohesion 2012)’ by the Centre de Recherche pour l’Etude et l’Observation des Conditions de Vie –( Research Centre for the Study on the Conditions of Life) CREDOC), young people feel less integrated in the society than other sections of the population, largely as a consequence of the precarious working situation.

The CREDOC ‘analyses and anticipates the individual behaviours in their multiple dimensions: consummation, social life, work’. It is partially funded by the government (10% of the revenues) and is place under the authority of the Ministry of Consummation and Trade. It has been created more than 50 years ago. It works with private companies, banks, insurances, professional federations but also with administration, public services and joint bodies.

Skills development

As a logical consequence of the precarious status described hereabove, young people have less access to training than their older counterparts. Among other, the “Individual right to training” (DIF) is available to people in long term contract, those who have been working in a given company for more than one year, or in short term contract if these people have been working at least 4 months during the last 12 months.

But recent initiatives put an emphasis on ensuring a real experience benefit for the young people working in the frame of subsidised jobs. The recent agreement on labour market reform of 11 January 2013 (FR1302011I) plans the creation of individual training accounts that will be universal, giving every person the opportunity to have a personal training account from his or her entry into the labour market until retirement. Each person, whether employed or unemployed may have an account. This account could have very beneficial effects on young entrants.

1.2 Health and well being

There is specific rules for working people below 18 (they generally work as part of an education programme, but not only) : They can’t work more than 35 hours a week or more than 8 hours a day, can’t work at night, have longer break time than adults, longer holidays… They can’t work on Saturday or during public holidays. Some activities considered as hazardous are prohibited. However, in 2007, for one million working hours, 52 accidents were registered among the 15-19 years old workers.

According to an article ‘Is it better to be young at work?’ in a website dedicated to the working conditions of seniors 18-25 age group falls under the same ruling as other adults, but have an accident rate two times higher than seniors. This high level of accidents can be explained by the lack of experience, the lack of physical and psychological maturity, and a lack of information or awareness concerning health and safety. The supervision is often unsatisfying given the existing dangers. This situation can also be explained by their precarious status: they change their post more frequently and often work in more risk prone environments (machines, toxic products, stress, tiredness…). It is also observed that employers often force more painful and dangerous conditions on to the categories of workers that have most difficulty in asserting their rights and imposing better working conditions.

This can also be explained by the fact that young people are over represented in low qualification jobs that require physical constraints, staggered hours, and exposure to chemicals: building, hospitality, cashier…

According to the study : ‘ Les transformations des parcours d’emploi et de travail au fil des générations (The transformations of work and employment paths over the generations)’ (National Institute for Statistics and Economic Studies – INSEE- , mars 2012) the perception of physical pain has not reduced despite the rise of executive positions and the reduction of the number of hand workers and farmers, new technologies and progress in terms of prevention. The level of “severity of working conditions” perceived by a young worker of 20 is higher for the new generation compared to for the older generations. Otherwise, the psychosocial constraints are perceived more strongly today than before (by every category of the population): feeling of working under pressure, lack of gratefulness, and the feeling to not having the opportunity to fully use one’s capacity are rising. Young executive are more concerned by this phenomenon. In other word, young people are entering a labour market that is perceived more painful than it used to be.

Another (international) study (ESTIME, by the Institut de Medecine Environnementale) shows that somatic stress breaks out and reaches higher level after three years of professional life. That means that this disease is brewing during the first working year. This can be explained by the fact that young workers often show “over-motivation” that leads them to do more than what is required and/or expect a level of gratefulness they will never obtain. This phenomenon can lead to “work-addiction”, burnout or a very resentful demotivation. One can assume than the insecurity of employment may strengthen this phenomenon.

1.3 Reconciliation of working and non-working life

No information.

Block 2: Identification and characterisation of existing differences in working conditions within the group of young entrants to the labour market in your country

2.1 Personal characteristics of young entrants

The younger workers are the less educated. As a consequence, they suffer from the worst job situations (precarious job, less means to assert their rights, painful jobs…). In 2010, 40% of non-graduates and one third of “baccalaureat” holders or less start with fixed term job, interim or subsidised job, while it is the case of only 15% of young people with at least a bachelor’s degree. According to the DARES ‘Les bas salaires en France entre 1995 et 2011’ – low salaries in France between 1995 and 2011- DARES analyses n°068, October 2012 p.3), 28 % of the total population who have “low salaries” are young workers, 23, 8% of the young workers earn low salaries, and among them, 15% earn very low salaries.

The more recent “entrants” are the ones who face the most difficulties to find a job. In 2010, only one out of two young entrants is employed the following quarter after he finished his studies. One year after their studies, they are more than 6 out of ten to be employed, and 7 out of 10 two years after. In 2010, more than ¾ of young who have finished their studies for four years have a job. But with large differences depending on the education level and sectors (Evolution récente de l’insertion des jeunes sur le marché du travail selon le niveau de diplome – ‘Recent evolution of the labour market for young people according to their education level’, DARES analyses, n°013, February 2012)

According to the DARES, 24.2% of working women (of all ages) earn low salaries, compared to only 9% for men.

Young women are also more exposed than their mal counterparts to doing part-time jobs. This is particularly true for non-graduate young women.

According to the National Agency for the Improvement of Working Conditions (ANACT, ‘Les conditions de travail ont-elles un sexe? – ‘Do working conditions have a gender?’- Travail et Changement n°348, March April 2013) , between 2000 and 2010, the number of work injuries for women increased by 27% while it decreased by 20% for males during the same period. The number of work diseases declared is the same for women and men. It has been rising by 180% for women and 92% for men. The level of pressure and stress at work is higher for women. This can be explained by the fact than women often have more painful, emotionally challenging, precarious, and repetitive jobs with atypical working time. One can add to this a stronger lack of professional perspective and the need to cope with home tasks.

National Agency for the Improvement of Working Conditions (ANACT) was created by the Law of the 27 december 1973. ‘ANACT was born from the convergent wishes of social partners and the State to ‘humanizing the work’ in a context of social and economic changes’. It focuses on the risk prevention, physical conditions, content, time and organisation of work. It is directed by a management board gathering the State, employers and employees confederations and experts. It is a ‘social dialogue construction place’. (source: ANACT).

This contrasts with the fact that women have a higher education level as men (DARES analyses n°013- op Cit). A 2010 INSEE report (INSEE Première, n°1284, Februar 2010), finds that young women are more successful in finding their first job than men because they are on average, more qualified. (The activity rate of young females is, however, substantially lower.)

According to the Centre for Studies and Research on Qualifications (CEREQ - enquête 2010 sur la generation 2007 – ‘Survey 2010 on the 2007 generation’) a graduate degree remains the best protection against unemployment and ensures, in general, better working conditions. According to the DARES (DARES Analyses n°13 – Op Cit), at the end of 2010, after one to four years after the end of their studies, two out of ten young actives are unemployed: 4 out of 10 among the ones with only a school certificate (or no graduation), compared to only one out of ten for the ones with a higher education graduation. The impact of the graduation level is much more important during the first years of active life than after ten years of working experience: One to four years after the end of the studies, the probability to be unemployed is seven times higher for a young with low or no education degree than for one with a higher education level, but only 3 times higher beyond 10 years of work experience.

Thus, the education level plays an essential role for working conditions and employment of young entrants. However, one can observe that the percentage of persons “dropped in status” is 15% higher for Master’s degree holder than for bachelor’s degree holder (CEREQ- enquête 2010 sur la generation 2007 – ‘Survey 2010 on the 2007 generation’).

Contrary to someone with a more “general” education, persons with a vocational training (professional bachelor’s degree) generally benefit from better working conditions than their counterparts: faster entry into the labour market and a good pay. This can be explained by the fact that these education programmes are better connected and adapted to the labour market and its needs.

On the contrary, even if, in the long term, they should be able to get good positions, PhD holders, at least during the first years, often have difficulties to enter the labour market and to get long term positions. Of course, their situation cannot be compared with that of the low or non-graduates.

In general, whatever be the level of graduation, young people graduating in industrial or scientific field get better working conditions than those with degrees in services or human sciences. (CEREQ- enquête 2010 sur la generation 2007 – ‘Survey 2010 on the 2007 generation - Op Cit).

According to a report by the CESE, ‘ l’emploi des jeunes des quartiers populaires - Employment of young people in working class areas- (2008)’, young people from « sensible areas » are facing specific difficulties to enter the labour market: low education level, difficulties to address the employers, difficulties linked to the economy of the area, and massive discriminations (because of their origins, name, look, or just because of their address). The unemployment rate in these areas is two times higher than in other areas.

2.2 Occupational characteristics

One can observe that young non- or low graduate entrants suffer worse working conditions in every sector. However, direct access to long-term contracts is not the norm for higher degree holding young people. Business School or engineering degree holders are most often the ones to get a long-term contract from the beginning. But it is the case for only half of them. Caring services or social services are giving more guaranties of job security than other sectors. According to INSEE, (‘Le domaine d’étude est determinant pour les débuts de carrière’ - ‘The chosen field of study is significant for the career beginning’- information webpage), the career beginning are not always better when the education level is higher. The field of the studies plays a majors role during the first years: holders of a National Vocational Training degree in secretariat have an unemployment rate of 25% while the holder of the same level in agriculture have an unemployment rate of 13%. During the first ten years of active life, the unemployment rate varies from 3 to 11% among the holder of Advance vocational diploma depending on the specialisation, and from 5 to 15% among holders of a Masters degree. In general, the low promising sectors are: textile and clothing, secretariat, selling and trading (at the NVT level). High promising sectors are science, production, computing and health (for “bachelor” levels), and business at the master level (contrary to lower levels), social sciences and health service at the doctorate levels. However, one third of the master degree holders in Sociology, psychology and arts, are on fixed term contracts and 40% of them would like to work more.

The building industry offers very good job security: among degree holders, even for low graduate categories. Other sectors with good job security are hairdressing, agriculture, electricity and HVAC engineering.

However, the working conditions do not only depend on job security. If there is job security in building or social services sectors, it is also because there is a lack of human resources compared to the demand. Sectors like agriculture, hotel/ restaurants, or building are considered as too painful, badly paid and low rewarding and do not manage to attract young people (Le Monde). There is there a big challenge in managing to change the reputation of these sectors and to match the education with the needs.

Because of budget restrictions, many sectors suffer serious human resources shortage. This is particularly true for Hospital staff, where, for instance, young entrant staff has to take care of too many patients and needs to do the job that should be done by doctors, and then face big responsibilities and stressful working conditions.

The education sector is another sector where workers are complaining worsening working conditions, among other because of human resources shortage. Young teachers are often recruited to work in the most difficult places. The government recently promised new hiring in education.

According to a 2012 survey by the French National Agency for the Improvement of working conditions (ANACT), 67% of the employees (of every age) think their working conditions are “good”, and 19% “very good”. Only 11% think they are “bad” and 3% “very bad”.

The perception of working conditions is better among the employees of small companies (36% mention “very good conditions”), than those of in big companies where 20% of the employees say their working conditions are bad. (Source: ‘Travaillez vous dans de bonnes conditions’- ‘Are you working in good conditions?’ L’Express, 19 october 2012).

Block 3: Evolution of working conditions of young entrants to the labour market in the last five years. Effects of the economic crisis

3.1 Please provide information on the evolution of working conditions of young labour entrants in the last five years. Have working conditions of this group improved/deteriorated in comparison to the existing situation five years ago (before the economic crisis began)? What are the reasons for these changes

In general, young graduates manage to find a job even if it takes longer, if there are more fixed term contracts and if the wage is lower than before the economic crisis. Young people are more exposed to unemployment than other generations (‘Quels effets de la crise sur les trajectoires professionnelles des jeunes? – ‘What are the consequences of the economic crisis on the professional path of young people? ‘, Elisabeth Danzin, Véronique Simonnet, Danièle Trancart, Connaissance de l’emploi, n° 82, juillet 2011, 4 p).

As described here above, budget restrictions in public sectors have worsened the working conditions in many sectors (Hospital staff, school…).

The economic crisis have had an effect on the activity rate of low or no graduated young people who face the competition of more educated entrants who apply for the same positions (as they have difficulties to find a job that correspond to their education level) (DARES Analyses n°013- Op Cit). The most recent entrants and with the lower education level are most vulnerable to the economic changes. However, as they are used as an “adjustment variable”, the employment of young entrants reacts faster to economic changes than for other categories.

3.2 Based on possible existing prospective studies, please provide information on the expected evolution of employment levels and working conditions of young labour market entrants in your country in the near future (coming 2-3 years)

According to recent studies (Source: Syndicat National de l’Enseignement Supérieur – National Trade-Union of the National Education- ‘Deux etudes officielles sur les perspectives d’emploi d’ici 2015’- Two official Studies on the employment perspective by 2015), the labour market would continue its current “polarisation” to two extremes. That means: more highly qualified jobs on the one side (21% of the active population would be executives in 2015 compared to 19% in 2000), and, on the other side, more non-qualified jobs, among other in the service economy: personal assistant, member of domestic staff, childminder…

With a scenario of 2% growth (quite optimistic) for France, there would be a need to hire 46% of young graduated with a level beyond the “baccalaureat” compared to 42% in 2003. It is estimated that there would be in 2015 more than 680 000 new entrants/ candidates to the labour market, while there would be less than 600 000 positions.

Two sectors are considered as specifically promising for the coming year: social and solidarity economy, and green sectors (energy efficiency and renewable economy). It is estimated that the social and solidarity economy would need to hire 600 000 people by 2020 (Source: ‘L’emploi dans l’ESS : des perspectives pour les jeunes’ – ‘Employment in Social and Solidarity Economy: some opportunity for young people- Web portal of the Minstry of Economy and Finance, 16 november 2012’). According to a recent study by the CIRED (International Research Center on the Environment and the Development)- Philippe Quirion, ‘L’effet net sur l’emploi de la transition énergétique en France,- The net effect on employment of energy transition in France’ Working paper n°46-2013- CIRED, April 2013), a very ambitious energy programme (Scenario Negawatt- where around 90% of the energy sources would be renewable, and with large progress in energy efficiency and energy sobriety) would lead to the creation of 1,6 millions of new jobs, and would destroy 1 million (that would go anyway according to the author: car industry, nuclear energy, aviation…).

Even today, there is a big challenge in getting enough qualified young entrants to these new promising sectors (building isolation, renewable energies, energy efficiency…).

Block 4: Initiatives taken by national governments/social partners in order to improve employment levels and working conditions of young entrants to the labour market

4.1 Identify main recent national measures/initiatives (1-2) put in place in your country by public authorities in order to improve employment opportunities and working conditions for young entrants to the labour market.

In order to help young people secure entry into the labour market, the government is creating the “Jobs for the Futur” (“Emplois d’avenir”) contract (FR1209021I). “Emplois d’avenir” will be subsidised by the State for a period of one to three years at 75% and will essentially concern the public sector. Whether fix or long term, these positions will be reserved for young people of 16-25 age group with low education and living in sensitive neighbourhoods or rural isolated zones. In exchange, the employer will have to guaranty the supervision, counselling and training of the young beneficiaries. The aim of this programme is to help acquire a qualification that would lead to a lasting integration in the labour market. 100 000 such jobs are planned for 2013.

This package is partially based on model of “Jobs for the young” (Emplois jeunes) put in place from 1997 to 2002 (FR9709163F), that was quite successful, but that, also had some limits underlined by the Center of Studie of Employment (‘Effet des emplois jeunes sur les trajectoires professionnelles’ Bernard Gomel, Alberto Lopez, connaissance de l’emploi, le 4 pages du CEE n° 94 - Consequences of the ‘employment for youngs package’ on the professional careers- Centre d’Etudes de l’Emploi , July 2012) : Stopped in 2002, this package could not be continued without subsidies, as it was originally planned. Moreover today, ten years since the end of the programme, the former beneficiaries are earning on an average 230 euro less than the rest of their generation. Lastly, the experience acquired during this period is far from being fully recognised by current employers. The challenge for this new programme would lie in the support counselling of these young people during and after the training (this is planed in the package), and in avoiding creating lower pay scale for their future jobs, as did the ‘Emplois-jeunes’.

Also, the key targeted sectors would be environment and social and solidarity economy. But according to some specialists, these sectors may not give as much employment opportunities to the less/non educated people. And, contrary to 1997, there are very few employment perspectives in the local authorities, public companies, education and police because of the economic crisis (Source: ‘Qui va bénéficier des emplois d’avenir’ – ‘Who will benefit from the ‘Emplois for the Futur’ Package?- L’Express, 26 August 2012).. Among the criticizing of this bill is the fact that this package will subsidize “artificial” jobs while so many jobs in the commercial (or other for profit sectors) remain to be filled (see also FR1209021I).

The bill on employment stability (“projet de loi sur la sécurisation de l’emploi”) should also have positive effects on young entrants even if it does not specifically target them. This bill would legally bind every company to offer a compulsory collective health insurance to their employees. It would strengthen the right to information of salaries concerning the human resource policy of the company. It also plans to improve the negotiations related to part-time work, remuneration for over time, and the flexibility of working hours in order to facilitate the access to a second job. The new rules encourage employers to hire younger and older workers on permanent contract by lowering the employer’s social contribution to unemployment insurance to zero for three months, or for four months in companies with fewer than 50 employees. As described in 1.2, the Individual training account will improve the access to training for young people (as it will be universal, accessible to each person, whether employed or unemployed (For more details, see FR1302011I).

“Generation contract”: This programme would consist in subsidising young-senior pairs to boost the employment of young people and secure the employment of seniors, while ensuring the transmission of skills. It concerns companies with less than 50 or with 50-300 employees after a collective agreement. It targets young from the under-26 age group and seniors of at least 55 years having a long term contract (and fixed term under certain conditions) (see FR1209031I).

Social partners (either at national, sector or company level) in order to improve working conditions amongst young entrants to the labour market.

In 2011, social partners in France held cross-sectoral negotiations to try to find solutions to the problem of youth employment. A first agreement, signed on 7 April 2011 aims at improving employment prospects for some 65 000 young people, with a budget of €80 million, which will be managed equally by the social partners (FR1105041I).

A second agreement aims at helping young people access housing (that is a important precondition to find a job) was signed on 29 April 2011. It expects to raise funds to support access to housing for workers by constructing 15,000 small buildings per year for three years, specifically aimed at those under 30. The agreement also asks CFDT (French Democratic Confederation of Work) to make a commitment to increase the amount of housing for young people by 30%. Thus, the number of residences for young people should increase from 27,000 in 2009 to 35,000 in 2014 (for more details, see FR1105041I).

French Democratic Confederation of Work (CFDT): is the biggest French trade-union regarding its number of members (863 874 in 2012). It gathers members from every professional sectors, in Small and large companies, mostly in private sector but also in public sectors, in every regions of France. (Source: CFDT)

In July 2009, the social partners concluded an agreement on the consequences of the crisis on employment. The specific impact on young people is emphasised and the main proposal is to encourage apprenticeship contracts to ensure employment and training for young people (FR1101011Q).

There are very numerous initiatives taken at the company level. An important initiative to be noted is the action lead by ‘Institut de l’Entreprise” that aims at creating links between young people and companies in order to improve the access and conditions of young workers in the labour market. This institute identified many good practices from its member companies concerning young entrants (and specifically toward the young people who have left the education system without qualifications). Many partnerships have been put in place through this institute between different actors. It launched in 2012 an observatory on the employment of young people. Exemples of good practices put in place by companies are: the creation of a “housing service” (La Poste), the monitoring toward long term contrat into the company itself or with project partner companies (Société Générale)…

Commentary by the NC

The employment and working conditions of young people have been an important topic during the last presidential elections in France. It is true, young people are generally suffering worst conditions as their older counterparts: more precarious/ atypical forms of employment, drop in status, vulnerability toward unemployment, stressful working conditions. Many interesting initiatives have been recently put in place to improve their situation. The bill on employment stability, among other, could lead to important progress. Many studies show that young workers expect much from their job and are looking for “meaningful job, i.e. with high social values (See for instance: ‘Les jeunes: un rapport singulier au travail ? Une tentative pour déconstruire le mythe de l’opposition entre les ages’ - Young people: a specific attitude toward work? An attempt to deconstruct the myth of age opposition- Beatrice Delay, September 2008 (working paper).. The development of green jobs and jobs in social and solidarity economy, as planed by the “jobs for the future package”, could be a good idea, but requires keeping improving the matching between education and the real needs of the labour market.

Paul Brunel, IR Share

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