20/05/2009 - France should do more to ease the transition of unskilled young people into employment. The government should give priority to helping young people the furthest removed from the job market and to strengthening the social protection of the most disadvantaged, according to a new report by the OECD.
Jobs for Youth: France reveals that the current serious economic crisis will lead to a steep increase in unemployment among young people in France. This crisis has fallen upon them at a time when their situation in the labour market was already not very favourable. The employment rate for young people in France is one of the lowest in the OECD area and one unemployed young person in four is out of work for more than a year, compared to the OECD average of one in five.
“The short-term priority is to introduce measures that target the young people most at risk. I am delighted that President Sarkozy launched an emergency plan for youth employment at the end of April that focused on apprenticeships. It is now that action needs to be taken otherwise the young people entering the labour market in 2009, those who will make up the 2009 generation, run a great risk of becoming a lost generation. It is equally important to tackle the more structural labour market problems affecting the transition from school to work”, declared the Secretary-General of the OECD, Mr. Angel Gurría, at the presentation of the report in Paris. Read the speech in full.
The employment rate for young people in France is one of the lowest in the OECD area and one unemployed young person in four is out of work for more than a year, compared to the OECD average of one in five
The OECD recommends that the French government introduce a raft of measures and, in particular, that it:
ensure that every young person leaves the education system with the skills that the labour market needs. Today, 18% of young people aged 20 – 24 (around 130,000 people) do not have secondary school qualifications which are considered the minimum qualification needed to enter the labour market.
restrict public assistance for apprenticeships to young people without skills. To increase to 50% the number of unskilled young people starting an apprenticeship compared to the current 40%, incentives to firms to train and hire an apprentice should be restricted to unskilled young people.
give small firms greater access to vocational training funding for their spending on training for low skilled young people already in employment. The reform of vocational training currently in progress should work towards developing training in small enterprises by securing funding and by improving the supply of services to the bodies charged with collecting contributions.
introduce mandatory internships at undergraduatelevel in universities. The introduction of mandatory internships during the three years of an undergraduate degree course should systematically include the award of credits in study curricula, as is the case in selective courses.
pursue efforts to reduce the overall segmentation of the labour market. Fixed-term contracts are increasingly less likely to offer young people a fast-track route to a steady job. In 2005-2006, only 16% of young people aged 15-24 years in a fixed-term contract were employed on a permanent contract one year later, compared to 45% ten years earlier.
introduce a safety net for the most disadvantaged young people under 25 years of age and make it part of a rigorous activation policy. Consideration should ultimately be given to extending the Active solidarity income (RSA) to young people under 25 years of age.
The report, entitled Jobs for Youth : France is the latest in a series launched by the OECD in some fifteen countries. To obtain a copy of the publication or for further information, journalists should contact the OECD media division (tel. 33 1 45 24 97 00). The report can be purchased in paper or electronic form through the OECD’s Online Bookshop. Subscribers and readers at subscribing institutions can access the online version via SourceOECD.
For more information, journalists are invited to contact Anne Sonnet, Division for Employment Analysis and Policy of the OECD (tel. + 33 1 45 24 91 69).
Watch a video on this issue with Martine Durand, Deputy Director of the Employment Analysis and Policy Division of the OECD (video available only in French)