14/11/2013 - Improving France’s competitiveness is essential to boost the economic growth needed to create jobs and allow citizens and businesses to develop their full potential, according to a new OECD report.
France : Redresser la competitivité identifies a number of weaknesses in the economy where reforms should be a priority. A key focus is the need to ensure that the country’s education system and professional training infrastructure provide people with the right skills to succeed in a globalised economy.
The general level of education in France has progressed strongly in recent decades but the gap between the performance of good and weak students remains large, making the French education system one of the most unequal among OECD countries. The impact of socio-economic background on student performance is also one of the highest among the countries surveyed.
The report recommends assigning the most effective teachers to the weakest schools. Professional training is highly costly, not best adapted to needs and should be reviewed. The budget dedicated to professional training is around € 32 billion, equal to almost half of the total expenditure on unemployment insurance. The OECD recommends better targeting and the implementation of a system of vouchers to reach the most in need.
The report says product market regulation is stricter than the average in advanced economies, particularly in network industries and in the retail sector, where the margins imposed are among the highest in OECD countries. Competition restrictions also weigh on activity in the area of services to business.
OECD Secretary–General Angel Gurría said reforms are needed both to tackle inequality and support growth: “The government and social partners have made progress but must now be more ambitious in their aims, so that they correspond to a vision of society which is committed to all its citizens, including the most vulnerable.” (read the full speech in French).
The report, which Mr Gurría presented to French President François Hollande last week, points to a number of other key areas where the OECD recommends action to support productivity and competitiveness:
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