The French government has announced new job measures aimed at cutting the number of young people who are out of work.
The plan addresses two major concerns for the country’s leaders – the high unemployment rate was an acknowledged factor behind the riots that swept France’s rundown suburbs late last year.
Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin said: “We need a contract of employment that is better suited to young peoples’ needs and that can offer them faster and more certain access to stable employment. At the moment young people are being asked ‘what experience do you have’ when they can’t have any because they haven’t had a job yet. It is absurd and unjust. I therefore wanted to create a smooth path to long term work contracts: a first job contract.”
The French government has had some success, cutting the national jobless rate to 9.6%.
But for young people it is among the highest in Europe – 22.8% – rising to 40% for those youngsters without qualifications.
There will now be waivers on social security charges for firms that hire young people who have been out of work for more than six months.
However the French business group MEDEF was sceptical and the unions said the government plan would only increase the precarious position of the young and undermine labor laws.