3.2 Administration and governance
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Combating youth unemployment and facilitating young people’s entry onto the labour market is one of the French State’s top priorities, requiring the mobilisation of a range of parties. Policies bearing on the employment of young people are cross-ministerial, cross-cutting, multi-partnerial and territorial.
Governance of youth employment policies is carried out via a cross-cutting partnership between the State (ministries), central administrations and their “decentralised departments”, local authorities such as Regions in particular, and non-public partners. The role played by each of these parties differs depending on their fields of action and competences.
The Public Employment Service (SPE - Service Public de l’Emploi) in the territories is managed by the State and representatives of the main operators responsible for implementation of employment policies at local level: the national employment service Pôle Emploi, Local Missions and bodies specialising in the professional integration of the disabled, the Cap Emploi network. It brings together all public and private actors responsible for implementing policies bearing on employment and vocational training. The SPE is under the aegis of the ministry in charge of labour, and more specifically under that of the General Delegation for Employment and Vocational Training (DGEFP - délégation générale à l’emploi et à la formation professionnelle). In addition, as designer and manager of employment policies, the Minister in charge of Labour plays a key role in this governance.
Main authorities responsible for youth employment policies
Ministry in charge of labour
As a designer of employment policies, the Ministry of Labour, Employment and Integration and its various departments are key players in employment policies, including those for young people. The ministry of labour’s departments include:
- The General Delegation for Employment and Vocational Training (DGEFP - délégation générale à l’emploi et à la formation professionnelle), under the joint authority of the Minister for Urban Affairs, Youth and Sport and the Minister in charge of labour. The DGEFP draws up and implements government guidelines on employment and vocational training.
- The Directorate-General for Labour (DGT), which "prepares, leads and coordinates labour policy in order to improve collective and individual relations and working conditions in companies, as well as the quality and effectiveness of the law governing them" (Decree No. 2006-1033 of 22 August 2006). The DREETS (Regional Directorates for the Economy, Employment, Labour and Solidarity), deconcentrated State services, have been gathering competences in the areas of social cohesion, labour, employment and economy since 2021. They are the "unique interlocutors at regional level for companies and socio-economic actors (company managers, employees, social partners, job seekers, consumers)" who prepare regional strategies for employment and ensure compliance with the provisions of the Labour Code.
The Ministry relies on territorial services, the Regional Directorates of Economy, Employment, Labour and Solidarity (DREETS).
Ministry in charge of education and youth policies
The main authority responsible for youth policies is currently the Ministry in charge of Education and Youth, which relies in particular on its Directorate for Youth, Popular Education and Associative Life (DJEPVA). One of its tasks is to monitor interministerial youth policies, in particular by leading a network of various task managers linked to youth issues in all ministries.
Other public actors: institutions, operators and local authorities
Pôle Emploi (National employment service)
The action of the Ministry of Labour is also relayed by operators and public establishments with national competence, such as Pôle emploi, one of the leading operators of the public employment service. Pôle emploi's mission is to support jobseekers in their search for work and to meet the recruitment needs of companies. It carries out "registrations on the list of job seekers, compensates job seekers, collects, processes, disseminates and makes available data relating to the labour market and the compensation of job seekers". Pôle emploi also participates in the monitoring of young jobseekers in conjunction with the local missions, particularly in disadvantaged urban neighbourhoods and rural areas, by supporting young people within the framework of professional integration schemes such as the CEJ or through assistance in setting up businesses. A multi-annual agreement on objectives and management, signed between the State, UNEDIC (the association managing unemployment insurance) and Pôle emploi, defines its objectives in relation to the employment situation.
France compétences agency
Created on 1 January 2019 by the law for the freedom to choose a professional future of 5 September 2018, the France compétences agency aims to ensure the funding, regulation and improvement of vocational training and apprenticeships. It was placed under the administrative supervision of the Ministry of Vocational Training.
The France compétences agency is the only national body with governance over vocational training and apprenticeships. It is also the national authority that funds and regulates vocational training and apprenticeships.
France Compétences is the only national governance body for vocational training and apprenticeship. It is also the national authority for financing and regulating vocational training and apprenticeship.
Its strategic orientations are determined by a quadripartite governance made up of the State, the Regions, and trade unions and employers' organisations representative at national and interprofessional level.
Local authorities: the Region
The Regions were created in 1982 and are the largest territorial authorities under common law. In metropolitan France, their number has been reduced to thirteen since 1 January 2016, and their fields of action have been redefined by the law on the New Territorial Organisation of the Republic (loi NOTRe of 7 August 2015).
In addition to the competences linked to economic development, high school management, regional planning and transport management, they have competences in the implementation of policies for vocational training and job seekers, and the integration of young people. Since the law "For the freedom to choose one's professional future" of 5 September 2018, the competences of the Regions in the field of apprenticeship and work-linked training have been revised and their missions in the field of guidance have been reinforced.
In addition, the region participates in the regional public employment service (SPER) and pilots the regional public guidance service (SPRO) in concert with the State.
Among those involved in implementation of (general) employment policies, “social partners” in particular play a major role, in particular in the context of collective negotiations leading to collective conventions. The term “social partners” refers to representatives of the main employees’ unions and employer organisations who participate in “social dialogue” in the professional world. Social dialogue is defined by the International Labour Organisation (ILO) as “all types of negotiation, consultation or simply exchange of information between or among representatives of governments, employers and workers, on issues of common interest relating to economic and social policy”. Social partners, then, intervene on questions concerning such matters as work conditions, ongoing training and wage standards.
Five union confederations are recognised in France and have the right to negotiate and conclude agreements in all professional sectors:
- the CGT – General Labour Confederation (Confédération générale du travail),
- the CFDT – French Democratic Confederation of Labour (Confédération française démocratique du travail),
- the CGC – General Confederation of management (Confédération française de l'encadrement),
- the CFTC – French Confederation of Christian Workers (Confédération française des travailleurs chrétiens),
- The general confederation of labour FO – Workers’ Force (Confédération générale du travail - Force ouvrière).
At employer level, three unions are recognised as representative:
- the MEDEF – French Enterprises Movement (Mouvement des entreprises de France),
- the CPME – Confederation of Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (Confédération générale des petites et moyennes entreprises)
- the U2P – (l’Union des entreprises de proximité)
Other union organisations also exist, but are not representative at national level.
It should be borne in mind that all these bodies are stakeholders in regulation of the labour market in general, not only of the youth labour market. They do not carry out specifically youth-oriented actions. Not many young people are union members. Young people’s involvement in unions is little developed in France, while generational renewal of employee and employer organisations is of crucial importance to them. Such underrepresentation of youth may partly be explained by ignorance of the role played by unions. Most youth unions are student unions, the two main organisations being:
- the FAGE – Federation of General Student Associations (Fédération des associations générales étudiantes). Founded in 1989, it does not claim to be a union, but acts as a “loudspeaker” for student associations.
- the UNEF – National Union of Students of France (Union nationale des étudiants de France), a longstanding union one of whose areas of commitment is employment. In 2022, the UNEF published a white paper of 15 priorities for youth, including the issue of access to stable employment.
The local missions are key public players and carry out a public service mission in the implementation of integration and support policies for young people aged 16 and over to under 26, particularly those who have left the school system. There are more than 436 of them, spread throughout the country. Most of these missions have associative status - others may be part of a public interest grouping (GIP), or be part of an employment centre (MDE).
Local missions are represented at national level by the National Union of Local Missions (UNML) and at regional level by regional associations of local missions (ARML).
They were created in a context of economic crisis and rising youth unemployment by the ordinance of 26 March 1982 (relating to measures intended to provide young people aged 16 to 18 with a professional qualification and to facilitate their social integration).
They are defined in Articles L5314-1 to 4 of the Labour Code. Local Missions assist young people by providing them with answers adapted to their situations, dealing with their social difficulties, and making them aware of the various schemes designed for them.
They form part of the Public Employment Service (SPE - service public de l’emploi). Around 13,600 professionals accompany them in their employment-seeking activities. At local level, they can rely on around 6,500 sites and contribute to the drafting of youth employment strategies and countering social exclusion, in particular by monitoring jobseekers entrusted to them by Pôle Emploi.
Local Missions are financed by the State and local authorities and chaired by elected local government officials.
Cross-sector cooperation in the field of employment and training is made up of a range of mechanisms, as well as the creation of bodies for decision-making and reflection that bring together various actors who collaborate on questions of youth employment, such as the Advisory Council for Youth Policy (Conseil d’orientation des politiques de jeunesse), which is an advisory body dedicated to youth policies that is made up of institutional and non-profit actors and is an instrument for cross-sector cooperation.
The Advisory Council on Youth policies (Conseil d'orientation des politiques de jeunesse - COJ)
At national level, in 2016, the Advisory Council on Youth policies (Conseil d'orientation des politiques de jeunesse- COJ) was created by Decree n°2016-1377 of 12 October 2016. It is an administrative advisory body, placed under the Prime Minister.
The COJ has three main missions:
- It may be consulted on legislative or regulatory projects relating to youth and examine any issue of general interest in terms of youth policy;
- It can make proposals to the government to improve the situation of young people;
- It must send an annual report on its activities to the Government.
The Council has 108 titular members divided into eight colleges, one of which is made up of representatives of young people and youth organisations.
It has two thematic commissions, one of which deals with the integration of young people.
In 2021, the Conseil d'orientation des politiques de jeunesse presented two evaluation reports on integration schemes: the 1 young person 1 solution (1 jeune 1 solution) plan and the youth engagement contract (contrat d'engagement jeune).