Go-ahead for Jobs for the Future scheme for young people
Nearly one in five young people – more than 120,000 annually – emerge from the French education system each year without a diploma. During this year’s presidential election campaign, François Hollande, now French President, promised to give young people priority during his five-year tenure. This election pledge resulted in the ‘jobs for the future’ bill, passed by the Council of Ministers on 29 August 2012, targeted at youngsters having serious trouble entering the job market.
Young people who emerge from the education system in France without a diploma have great difficulty in finding employment. The unemployment rate among this group in the four years after leaving school is 45%, compared with 19% for those who have benefited from training.
In 2011, France’s Ministry of Labour estimated that 500,000 young people aged between 16 and 25 were neither in employment nor in training. The Ministry also said that, of those who were in employment, 48% were not on secure contracts.
Legislation to support youth employment
During his election campaign, France’s new President François Hollande promised to make youth employment a priority. His ‘Jobs for the Future’ bill was passed by the Council of Ministers on 29 August 2012, targeted at youngsters having serious trouble entering the job market.
The aim of the Jobs for the Future scheme is to create employment solutions and open up access to qualifications for under-qualified or unqualified young people who cannot gain a foothold in the labour market.
Priority will be given to those aged between 16 and 25 who have no qualifications, especially in urban or rural areas particularly affected by unemployment. Other youngsters having difficulty finding employment, despite completing their studies, will also be able to apply.
Only employers from the non-commercial sector will be eligible to access the Jobs for the Future scheme and its funding. To avoid a windfall effect, another contract will be created for the commercial sector.
The jobs being created will have a recognised social purpose and be likely to offer long-term recruitment prospects. The initiative will see jobs created in the environmental and digital sectors, social and health and welfare services, the personal care sector, youth work/facilitation, and leisure activities such as tourism. In addition, certain jobs for the future – known as ‘emplois d’avenir professeur’ [future jobs for teachers] – will allow some students receiving a state grant to be supported. Those students will be able apply if they wish to continue their studies and intend to enter the teaching profession.
According to Labour Minister Michel Sapin, 100,000 jobs for the future will be created in 2013, increasing to 150,000 in 2014. This will represent a Government expenditure of €2.3 billion over the two years.
The state will pay 75% of the young person’s gross wage for a period of three years. The objective is to facilitate the youngsters’ entry into the job market by improving their vocational skills – by making it compulsory for them to follow a training programme – and giving them their first employment experience.
Employers’ and opposition party reaction
The programme is scheduled to come into effect on January 1, 2013, and the text has been passed by the National Assembly.
The right-wing opposition parties, including the Union for a Popular Movement (UMP), abstained or voted against the plan, criticising the scheme as ineffective and costly. UMP member Annie Genevard said:
Rather than treating the causes of the disease, you have chosen to apply a social sticking plaster by creating jobs for the future subsidised to the tune of 75%. Employment by the public or voluntary sectors cannot be the answer to unemployment in a country where so many jobs in the commercial sector remain to be filled...
France’s main employer organisation, the Movement of French Enterprises (MEDEF), was also very critical of the scheme.
MEDEF President Laurence Parisot said it was not a good solution and that she would have preferred the continuation of ‘zero charge’.
Trade union reaction
Trade unions were largely in favour of the scheme, with certain reservations, and they asked for a number of amendments.
The General Confederation of Labour (CGT) demanded access to skills training and the establishment of a mentoring system at the workplace.
The French Democratic Federation of Labour (CFDT) called for permanent contracts and built-in security.
And sounding a note of caution, the General Confederation of Labour – Force ouvrière (FO) questioned the durability of these jobs once the state aid cease.
The unions also voiced criticism of the adopted bill. The CFDT, CGT and FO demanded that the minister withdraw provisions allowing young people to be employed on the basis of seasonal fixed-term contracts (CDD saisonniers). Although this type of contract is similar to standard fixed-term CDD contract, it offers fewer rights and notably, at the end of a contract, does not give the standard CDD contract compensation of at least 10% of salary.
According to the CGT, such a provision was:
...in total contradiction to the general philosophy of the bill, which stresses the interest for the young person in having a contract that is concluded for a longer term...
The text adopted by the National Assembly allowed seasonal fixed-term contracts to be regarded as a Job for the Future if they include a renewal clause for the two following seasons, and on condition that the periods worked were not less than one year overall. In the initial draft, the state subsidy – for a maximum of three years – had to relate to permanent contracts or (renewable) fixed-term contracts lasting one year.
In the end, the unions prevailed and their objections were heard. T he Senate social affairs commission ratified the bill with three amendments:
- no Jobs for the Future for seasonal employment;
- only in exceptional cases may young people with a higher education qualification apply;
- in order to limit opportunistic exploitation of the new arrangements, these contracts may not be used to replace an employee who has been made redundant.
The amended bill, which was treated as an emergency measure, was passed by the Senate on 25 September 2012. It was adopted conclusively by the two chambers on 29 October 2012.
Hélène Tissandier, Université Paris Dauphine, IR Share