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Youth employment is a constant concern for public authorities, especially as entering employment encourages independence for young people. The unemployment rate for young people between 15 and 24 years old remains high in France: it reached 21% in the second quarter of 2020, compared to 7.1% for the entire active population. Mass unemployment primarily affects less qualified young people: the unemployment rate for young people who do not have a diploma is more than twice that of the unemployment rate for young people who have a high school leaver’s certificate.
The challenges involved include reducing numbers of young jobseekers, in particular by reducing existing disparities between young people with few qualifications, those from disadvantaged urban districts and young graduates, and by taking prior action to remove the obstacles to professional integration met with along school and university pathways as well as in young people’s everyday lives.
In order to reduce unemployment among the least qualified and to boost long-term employability, several measures have been implemented or organised, especially to cope with the COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting economic impacts.
Several youth employment policy schemes are aimed at the most fragile young people
“Employment” schemes for young people finding professional integration difficult because of their social situations.
- The Skills Investment Plan (PIC)
The Ministry of Labor has developed a plan for the period 2018-2022 to train young people especially low-skilled: the “Skills Investment Plan”.
The plan aims at training "one million low-skilled young people and one million low-skilled long-term jobseekers" through skills development, including digital skills and the implementation of tools and experiments.
At the territorial level, the PIC will be take the form of regional pacts signed between, the State and the voluntary Regions (local authorities)
The objectives assigned to the regional variations of the plan are, among others:
• The development of transversal knowledge training (acquisition of basic knowledge),
• Increasing the number of places on training scheme dedicated to young people with social difficulties,
• Strengthening the program of innovative training in targeted territories (disadvantaged area).
Local missions (See Glossary) play an important role in the implementation of PIC measures Because of their knowledge about low-skilled young people situation.
The Guarantee for Youth is a one of the public authorities’ key measures in favour of youth employment. The scheme, introduced in January 2013, is France’s response to the Council of the European Union’s recommendation of 22 April 2013 to create a “Guarantee for young people” consisting of providing “a quality job, continuing training, an apprenticeship or a traineeship […]”, firstly to young people without qualifications and living in areas where the unemployment rate among under 25 y/o is over 25%.
In France, the “Garantie Jeunes” guarantee was achieved by implementing a one-year reciprocal contract of commitments between a young person (neither in employment nor in education or training, NEET) and a local mission that offers an intensive and personalised support programme and a guarantee of resources up to €492.
The Youth Guarantee is based on:
- Intensive collective support on the part of Local Missions;
- Repeated professional placement experiences taking a variety of possible forms;
- Individual accompaniment throughout the year;
- Monthly financial aid enabling young people to become more self-sufficient.
Its roll out across the entire country from 1 January 2017 has been recorded by Decree No. 2016-1855 of 23 December 2016 of the Law of 8 August 2016 on labour, the modernisation of social dialogue and safeguarding career paths. The law establishes a contractual framework for youth support provided by local missions: the additional contractual support pathways to employment and independence (Parcours contractualisé d’accompagnement vers l’emploi et l’autonomie, PACEA), of which the “Garantie Jeunes” is a part.
According to the statistical departments for the Ministry of Employment, 229,000 young people were included in the “Garantie Jeunes” between October 2013 and July 2018.
- EPIDE Training Programmes
Employment integration establishments (EPIDEs Établissements Pour l'Insertion dans l'Emploi ) are responsible for accompanying young people in difficulty in their social and professional projects through adapted individualised programmes. They are under the triple supervision of the ministries responsible for defence, employment and urban affairs.
EPIDEs are designed for young people 18-25 y/o with no diploma or other qualification or on the verge of marginalisation. EPIDEs provide them with free residency training. They enjoy special status and sign a volunteer contract for integration over a period of 8 months. The average duration of contracts is 10 months and cannot be extended beyond 24 months. Young people concerned receive a monthly allowance of 210 euros;
Service Militaire Adapté (SMA – Adapted military service) is under the aegis of the ministry in charge of overseas French territories. It is a military scheme for socio-professional integration designed for young people 18-26 y/o who are the furthest removed from the world of work in Overseas France. Lasting for six to eight months and renewable, such service is attested by obtainment of certificate of professional aptitude (CAPI certificat d’aptitude personnelle à l’insertion ). Young people concerned have the status of army volunteers and receive military mentoring that includes training in interpersonal skills in professional environments, “second-chance” education leading to acquisition of basic knowledge, and a qualifying training programme.
In addition to these recurring measures, emergency measures to respond to the COVID-19 health crisis have been taken by the French government to help young people as part of the “1 jeune 1 solution” (A solution for every young person) plan that was presented in July 2020.
The “1 jeune, 1 solution” plan
The COVID-19 health crisis has limited access to the job market for young people and made education and training more difficult for them. In order to mitigate the negative impacts of the crisis, the government has developed the “1 jeune, 1 solution” plan, which aims to support young people aged between 16 and 25 years old at the end of the COVID-19 crisis as the economic and social consequences affect young people most severely.
The plan largely focuses on getting young people into work and its measures based on three axes:
- Helping young people get a foot on the career ladder
- Guiding and training 200,000 young people for the industries and professions of the future
- Supporting young people who are not in the workforce by creating 300,000 customised paths for integration
The measures include, among others, creating jobs, encouraging employers to recruit young people and strengthening measures, especially supporting those that exist (for the workplace) or developing subjects of employment;
Axis 1 “Helping young people get a foot on the career ladder” provides: (non-exhaustive list)
- “€4,000 in compensation for expenses for every young person recruited between August 2020 and January 2021”.
- “Special assistance of €5,000 to recruit someone under 18 years old who is on a work/study programme (apprenticeship or professional training contract) or €8,000 to recruit someone over 18 years old”.
- “100,000 additional civic service projects to get young people involved in non-profit organisations”.
- “2,000 FONJEP (Youth and Popular Education Cooperation Fund) jobs supporting non-profit organisations to build and grow”.
- “1,000 young people will be recruited in very small and small and medium businesses for occupations centred around the ecological transformation of economic models”.
- “2,500 young people will be oriented towards jobs in sport as part of the French National Sports Agency”.
Axis 2 “Guiding and training 200,000 young people for the industries and professions of the future” provides:
- “100,000 new training programmes providing, or working towards, qualifications for young people without qualifications or who have not completed higher education”.
- “16,000 training programmes in the care sector to double the capacity for training nursing assistants, nurses and personal care assistants over the next five years”.
- “35,000 digital training programmes for young people without qualifications in 2020 and 2021”.
- “Individualised pathways for 35,000 dropouts between 16 and 18 years old by the end of 2021”.
- “Doubling the number of pupils who are beneficiaries of agreements for success and routes to excellence”.
Axis 3 “Supporting young people who are not in the workforce by creating 300,000 customised paths for integration” provides:
- “120,000 additional measures for entry to employment: the job skills route (PEC) and the employment initiative contract (CIE)”.
- “50% increase in places in “Garantie Jeunes” schemes to reach 150,000 potential opportunities to provide support”.
- “80,000 additional contractual support paths to employment and independence (PACEA)”.
- “3,000 additional places in a support measure working towards professions in sport and entertainment”.
The “1 jeune, 1 solution” plan brings together the Ministries of Labour, Employment, Vocational Training and Integration, National Education, Youth and Sports, as well as the Ministry of Higher Education, Research and Innovation. Its development and implementation are based on cross-disciplinary and collaborative work, particularly between ministries and institutional actors in employment (social partners, public service for employment, state services in the territories, associations for youth and apprentices, associations for representing local elected representatives, etc.).
Institutional actors for professional integration have put in place measures that enable an easier and more stable professional transition. However, the measures are not aimed specifically at young people, although they are also accessible to this age group. For example, the “right to professional training”, which comes under the law on secure employment of 14 June 2013 and necessitates the creation of a professional training account (CPF) that stays with the employee for their entire life or the council for professional development (CEP), a free and personalised support measure open to everyone who wants to review their professional situation.
Furthermore, the measures in the skills investment plan (see Measures for employing young people) aim to reduce unemployment for under-qualified young people and enable their long-term social inclusion. The regional implementation of this plan rests on the signing of regional agreements for skills investment between the State and regions for the 2018-2022 period. Some agreements expand on testing new practices, such as training in workplace situations or the introduction of virtual reality in teaching modules that are adapted to situations relevant to young people.
In order to facilitate young peoples’ professional integration, measures have been introduced that aim to reconcile their professional and home lives, covering the fields of accommodation, healthcare and family life, and including:
- The guarantee Visale is a public scheme that allows students, without conditions of resources, to obtain a free rental deposit for any type of housing.
- Day nurseries to aid professional integration (Crèches à vocation d’insertion professionnelle), which provide support and childminding facilities, in particular for single mothers and parents who need time to look for employment;
- Young workers (“Jeunes travailleurs”) hostels: residences that rent out rooms to young people 16-25 (sometimes 30) y/o, in particular those in training programmes (apprenticeships, work/study or traineeships) and salaried students, those who are working their first (CDD/CDI) jobs or are looking for work following completion of their studies;
- Introduction of a gap year (année de césure), which allows students to suspend their studies for a period of between 6 months and a year in order to gain personal, professional or volunteer experience in France or abroad. Such “break” years contribute to maturation of career choices, personal development and acquisition of new skills.
Dedicated loan funding for vocational training for the State is included in the finance laws (cf. Glossary) in programmes 102 “Access and return to work” and 103 “Supporting economic change and job development” that aim to “develop skills, especially for long-term jobseekers and young people without qualifications, to facilitate their access to jobs and to encourage growth that creates jobs”.
As an indication, the skills investment plan (PIC) was given almost €14 billion over the 2018-2022 period. The intention is for this plan to make it possible to train and support 2 million young people and jobseekers who have few or no qualifications, while contributing to the transformation of continuing professional development.
Source: finance law 2020 “Travail et emploi” (Work and employment)
France is also using European schemes to support its national employment policies : the Youth Employment Initiative one of the main EU financial resources to support the implementation of Youth Guarantee schemes (That is the Guarantee for youth) and the European Social Fund an another financial instrument for supporting jobs.
In 2014-2020, the ESF in France has a budget of 6 billion euros (24% of the total European structural investment funds), including 310 million euros dedicated to the Initiative for the youth employment.
Checks and evaluations of the quality of employment measures, such as the “Garantie Jeunes”, can be carried out by observatories, academic laboratories and study centres, as well as ministerial statistical departments: INSEE, the internal statistical department for the National Institute for Youth and Non-Formal Education (INJEP) or the Department for the Organisation of Research, Studies and Statistics (DARES).
The Ministry of Labour has its own statistics division, the Department for the Organisation of Research, Studies and Statistics (DARES). Its role is to produce studies on labour and employment that concentrate, in particular, on “employment, unemployment, occupations and qualifications, employee remuneration, working conditions, professional relationships, collective bargaining, training for workers and policies on employment, labour and professional training” and to provide expertise “in order to clarify the economic and social debate”, which is conveyed by “the production of regular statistical information”.
The DARES publications are based on an annual programme that works in tandem with administrations, study and research institutes and providers concerned with employment. One of the topics of the study is “training and integration for young people”, for which DARES produces statistical analyses on the integration measures for young people and publishes an annual report on the current situation for young people aged 15 to 29 years old on the job market.
DARES coordinates the evaluation of “Garantie Jeunes” and evaluates measures aimed at supporting the development of apprenticeships.
In addition, it evaluates and estimates the impacts of policies to integrate young people into employment in partnership with other government statistical departments, including the Directorate for Evaluation, Planning and Performance (DEPP) in the Ministry of National Education, as well as the statistical departments of DIRRECTE (Department for Studies, Statistics and Evaluation, SESE) that it coordinates and that in turn conduct studies on public policy on employment and integration on a regional scale.
Guarantee for youth evaluation
The department has, for example, carried out an assessment of the implementation of “Garantie Jeunes”. Its assessment was based on three questions: “Has the measure impacted its target audience? What were the support and professional integration routes for young beneficiaries? What has been the impact of “Garantie Jeunes” on the future of beneficiaries?”
The impact study by DARES shows that “employment is progressing among young people after registering with “Garantie Jeunes”, especially in terms of long-term employment.
- “29% of beneficiaries are in work eight months after becoming part of the measure”.
- “41% after 19 months”.
- “the “Garantie Jeunes” would increase the employment rate of beneficiaries by 10 points 11 months after becoming involved in the measure. The effect continues in the months that follow leaving the support measure and correspond largely to an increase in the rate of access to long-term employment”.
In addition to DARES and Pôle emploi, many other actors participate in the evaluation of youth employment policies, among which we can cite the work of the CREST.
CREST, the Center for Research in Economics and Statistics, which is answerable to INSEE, is a laboratory for which one of the research topics is employment and integration for young people. It carries out randomised evaluations and contributes to producing evidence-based evaluations. The evaluation laboratory maintains strong relationships with INSEE, the network of ministerial statistical departments, such as DARES, and public bodies such as the Pôle emploi. It has recently published a report on “strengthened support for young graduates” and “the impact of anonymous CVs”. When looking at the economic laboratories that contribute to measuring the effects of employment policies aimed at young people, the role of CEREQ (Centre for Studies and Research on Qualifications), a public research body that studies questions related to advice, vocational training, integration and occupations, must be highlighted.