News

    France's Unemployment Woes Mirror Europe's Job Crunch

    Lisa Bryant

    After weeks of demonstrations, the French government has scrapped a controversial job law that sparked furious debate about the country's employment practices, particularly the reluctance of employers to hire inexperienced young people. Because it is so difficult to fire workers, many French businesses are reluctant to hire new ones. Other European countries face similar labor woes.

    Lana Strika graduated last summer from Paris 5 University with honors and a Master's degree in clinical psychology. The 24-year-old Parisian speaks five languages - three fluently - and has had several internships at French health centers.

    That kind of resume should be landing Strika plenty of job offers. But so far, her search for a full-time job has been disappointing.

    Strika says she's sent out plenty of letters to hospitals inquiring about positions. She's gotten nice replies, but no job offers. Many prospective employers tell her there are no jobs to be had.

    Frustration over the job crunch facing young French like Strika exploded onto the streets last month, as angry youths protested a new law designed to give employers incentives to hire young workers - the incentive being that they could fire them, too.

    On Monday, the center-right French government rescinded the law. Revised legislation includes financial aid to employers who hire disadvantage youths.

    Roughly 14 percent of French between the ages of 15 and 26 are not in school and are not employed. That figure is far higher among ethnic immigrants and in poorer parts of France.

    But Simon Tilford, an economist at the Center for European Reform, says France is not alone.

    "There is a problem of youth employment right across Europe. It is particularly bad in France, because there is very little in the way of training. So, people leave school ill-prepared for the labor market. The other problem is the very high levels of employment protection," explained Tilford.

    It is very difficult to fire full-time workers, not only in France, but elsewhere in Europe. And politicians are reluctant to push through unpopular labor reforms that might cost them the next election.

    Those reforms that do succeed are achieved with difficulty. Workers in southwestern Germany, for example, finally agreed earlier this month to work longer hours for less pay. But that came after a long strike.

    Glenda Quintini, an economist at the Paris-based Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, says labor reforms have been far less successful elsewhere in Europe.

    "Permanent jobs are untouchable in many countries, so firing restrictions are very high. You have high costs for firing somebody. You risk going to court, etc. So, those jobs remain very protected," said Quintini.

    European businesses are getting around these constraints by hiring workers on short-term and part-time contracts. In many countries, companies have trial periods, before they agree to hire on a permanent basis.

    France is no exception. There are a number of different ways French businesses can hire employees on a non-permanent basis. The now-abandoned youth labor law was the only one in Europe specifically targeting young French workers.

    Regardless of what legislation the government comes up with, young French, like Giullaume Violet, are worried about their future.

    Violet is the chapter head of France's national student's union at Paris 13, a public university in the Paris suburbs. He says, every generation has done better than the previous one. Now, he worries he will not be as well-off as his parents. He wants to be a public school history teacher. But there are few state jobs available.

    A number of French have gone abroad to look for work.

    Catherine Le Yaouanc, head of the British Chamber of Commerce in France, says she gets a steady stream of young French job seekers.

    "The big difference between Britain and France is about diplomas," she explained. "If you don't have a diploma, it's very difficult to get a job in France. It's easier if you have the right qualifications, and know the right people. In Britain, it's more flexible, whether you have a diploma or not."

    Lana Strika is also considering looking for work overseas. She has managed to find work in France - but only for 12 hours a week, and it does not pay well. But Strika still hopes for her dream job as a full-time psychologist at a hospital.

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movementi
    X
    July 22, 2016 11:49 AM
    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video In State of Emergency, Turkey’s Erdogan Focuses on Spiritual Movement

    The state of emergency that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has declared is giving him even more power to expand a purge that has seen an estimated 60,000 people either arrested or suspended from their jobs. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports from Istanbul.
    Video

    Video Scientists in Poland Race to Save Honeybees

    Honeybees are in danger worldwide. Causes of what's known as colony collapse disorder range from pesticides and loss of habitat to infections. But scientists in Poland say they are on track to finding a cure for one of the diseases. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Wall Already Runs Along Parts of US-Mexico Border

    The Republican Party’s presidential nominee, Donald Trump, gained the support of many voters by saying he would build a wall to keep undocumented immigrants and drugs from coming across the border from Mexico. Critics have called his idea impractical and offensive to Mexico, while supporters say such a bold approach is needed to control the border. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from the border town of Nogales, Arizona.
    Video

    Video New HIV Tests Emphasize Rapid Results

    As the global fight against AIDS intensifies, activists have placed increasing importance on getting people to know their HIV status. Some companies are developing new HIV testing methods designed to be quick, easy and accurate. Thuso Khumalo looks at the latest methods, presented at the International AIDS conference in Durban, South Africa.
    Video

    Video African Youth with HIV Urge More Support

    HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, is the top killer of teens in sub-Saharan Africa. But many youths say their experience with the virus is unique and needs to be addressed differently than the adult epidemic. VOA South African Correspondent Anita Powell reports.
    Video

    Video Poor Residents in Cleveland Not Feeling High Hopes of Republican Convention

    With the Republican Party's National Convention underway in Cleveland, Ohio, delegates and visitors are gathered in the host city's downtown - waiting to hear from the party's presidential candidate, Donald Trump. But a few kilometers from the convention's venue, Cleveland's poorest residents are not convinced Trump or his policies will make a difference in their lives. VOA's Ramon Taylor spoke with some of these residents as well as some of the Republican delegates and filed this report.
    Video

    Video Pop-Up Art Comes to Your Living Room, Backyard and Elsewhere

    Around the world, independent artists and musicians wrestle with a common problem: where to exhibit or perform? Traditional spaces such as museums and galleries are reserved for bigger names, and renting a space is not feasible for many. Enter ArtsUp, which connects artists with venue owners. Whether it’s a living room, restaurant, office or even a boat, pop-up events are bringing music and art to unexpected places. Tina Trinh has more.
    Video

    Video With Yosemite as Backdrop, Obama Praises National Parks

    Last month, President Barack Obama and his family visited some of the most beautiful national parks in the U.S. Using the majestic backdrop of a towering waterfall in California's Yosemite National Park, Obama praised the national park system which celebrates its 100th anniversary this year. He talked about the importance of America’s “national treasures” and the need to protect them from climate change and other threats. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
    Video

    Video Counter-Islamic State Coalition Plots Next Steps

    As momentum shifts against Islamic State in Iraq, discussions are taking place about the next steps for driving the terrorist group from its final strongholds. Secretary of State John Kerry is hosting a counter-IS meeting at the State Department, a day after defense ministers from more than 30 countries reviewed and agreed upon a course of action. VOA Pentagon correspondent Carla Babb reports.
    Video

    Video Russia's Participation at Brazil Olympic Games Still In Question

    The International Olympic Committee has delayed a decision on whether to ban all Russian teams from competing in next month's Olympic Games in Brazil over allegations of an elaborate doping scheme. The World Anti-Doping Agency recently released an independent report alleging widespread doping by Russian athletes at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi. So far, only Russian track and field athletes have been barred from the Summer Games in Brazil. VOA's Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Scotland’s Booming Whisky Industry Fears Brexit Hangover

    After Britain’s vote to leave the European Union, Scotland’s government wants to break away from the United Kingdom – fearing the nation’s exports are at risk. Among the biggest of these is whisky. Henry Ridgwell reports on a time of turmoil for those involved in the ancient art of distilling Scotland’s most famous product.
    Video

    Video Millennials Could Determine Who Wins Race to White House

    With only four months to go until Americans elect a new president, one group of voters is getting a lot more attention these days: those ages 18 to 35, a generation known as millennials. It’s a demographic that some analysts say could have the power to decide the 2016 election. But a lot depends on whether they actually turn out to vote. VOA’s Alexa Lamanna reports.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora