Cross-sectoral agreements improve prospects for young people

Social partners in France held cross-sectoral negotiations to try to find solutions to the problem of youth employment. Three employers’ organisations and four trade unions signed what is the first agreement of its kind, aimed at improving the employment situation for 65,000 young people in 2011. It offers training and help matching vacancies with young people in need of work. In a second agreement, measures have been put in place to help young people access housing.

Background

The first 2011 agreement on improving employment prospects for some 65,000 young people was signed on 7 April between three employers’ organisations and four trade unions. It establishes a budget of €80 million, which will be managed equally by the social partners.

The employers were represented by the Movement of French Enterprises (MEDEF), the General Confederation of Small and Medium-sized Enterprises and Real Employers (CGPME) and the Craftwork Employers’ Association (UPA).

The trade union federations that signed the agreement were the French Democratic Confederation of Labour (CFDT), the French Christian Workers’ Confederation (CFTC), Force Ouvrière (FO) and the French Confederation of Professional and Managerial Staff – General Confederation of Professional and Managerial Staff (CFE-CGC).

Targeting help where it is needed

The agreement identifies three categories of young people to whom support will be offered:

  • The so-called ‘drop-outs’, or young people who have left the education system without qualifications. The aim is to help them acquire enough knowledge and understanding to gain a qualification or job. The Joint Fund for Rendering Career Paths Secure (FPSPP), whose role is to finance training for less qualified workers and for those whose employment is at risk, is financing this measure which should benefit 20,000 young people. They will be supported by local employment advisers, funded by the public employment service.
  • Young people who, having completed their training, are experiencing difficulty finding work. This measure will be managed and financed by the Association for the Employment of Professionals (APEC) to a maximum of €29 million per year, and will put young people into contact with companies and offer them further training or preparation for employment. This measure will be available to employers who have been unable to find suitably qualified candidates for vacant posts and will finance part of the costs of necessary training. In total 25,000 young people will benefit from this measure in 2011 and 2012.
  • Young people with a diploma or recognised qualification, but who are finding it difficult to get a permanent job. The objective is to put them in touch with companies, via measures such as the Operational Preparation for Employment (and/or training as an alternative). The public employment service – Pôle emploi – will ensure its implementation by receiving €30 million from the FPSPP. This measure will support at least 20,000 young people in 2011.

Social partner reactions

The General Confederation of Labour (CGT) has demonstrated against the youth employment agreement, claiming it is not nearly enough and will only deal with 20,000 ‘drop-outs’ out of around 170,000 a year.

In contrast to CGT, the four other federations have judged the draft agreement as positive, saying it emphasises the importance of supporting young people with employment and represents ‘a concrete signal to the young’, according to FO.

MEDEF commented that this was the first important signal the social partners had sent to young people.

Facilitating access to housing

On 29 April, social partners reached a second agreement to support access to housing for young people. The draft agreement, which had already been approved by CFDT on 4 May, 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 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.

The social partners want to promote the concept of social cohabitation with a target of 10,000 residences and to develop a measure – the Guarantee of the Tenant’s Risk (GRL) – that will enable young people to rent property even if they do not meet the conditions of financial guarantees required by the owner. According to CFDT, with these measurements, 143,000 young people will be able to find a solution to their housing problems within three years.

‘Our approach is voluntary,’ explains MEDEF. ‘This agreement is an additional stage to make it possible to offer young people a solution to gain employment more easily.’

Frédéric Turlan, HERA

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