France takes aim again at youth unemployment

16th January 2006, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, Jan 16, 2006 (AFP) - French Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin on Monday unveiled a raft of new measures aimed at denting stubbornly high rates of youth unemployment, including a flexible new work contract.

PARIS, Jan 16, 2006 (AFP) -  French Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin on Monday unveiled a raft of new measures aimed at denting stubbornly high rates of youth unemployment, including a flexible new work contract.

Warning that "urgent" action was needed to get more young people into work, Villepin said the measures were an attempt to "bring the French labour market into the modern era".

"Young people have been left by the wayside in our society," he said, deploring the fact that it takes French youths eight to 11 years to find a stable first job, twice as long as in other European countries.

Twenty-three percent of France's 18-25 year-olds are jobless, more than twice the national average of 9.6 percent, and young people benefited less than other age groups from a modest fall in unemployment last year.

In some of the run-down, high-immigration areas hit by rioting last autumn, youth unemployment reaches 40 percent.

The keystone of the government's new measures is a new job contract for 18-25-year-olds that can be terminated by an employer within the first two years — after which it becomes a standard full-time contract.

Modelled on a flexible job contract introduced late last year to encourage small businesses to recruit more staff, the youth contract will apply to all companies of more than 20 employees.

Under the new measures, any company that recruits an under-26 year old who has been jobless for six months or more will also be exonerated from paying social charges for that employee for the first three years.

Villepin also announced that all internships of more than three months should be remunerated — a response to charges that many French companies use interns as free labour without giving them real job opportunities.

The measures are to be discussed as part of a law on equal opportunities to be brought before the French parliament next month.

Villepin called for wide-ranging negotiations to begin next week on a global reform of the French work contract, as well as incentives to encourage more people to work beyond the 35-hour week.

Ministers were also to meet shortly to discuss plans, outlined by President Jacques Chirac as a way to boost employment, to tie part of companies' social security contributions to their "value-added" rather than to their payroll.

Copyright AFP

Subject: French news

 

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