Unsurprisingly, the subject was overshadowed by Emmanuel Macron’s curfew announcement.
During the standard questions put to the government at the National Assembly on Wednesday, when questioned by a senator, the Prime Minister declared that the third-year internships would be optional this year. An inevitable decision, university students receiving refusal after refusal because of COVID19. These students are faced with great difficulties in finding an internship; because of the health protocol in both companies and remote working in general, it was essential to ease the pressure on their shoulders quickly.
But, however understandable it may be in view of the economic and health crisis, this decision could have harmful consequences on the professional orientation of up-and-coming generations.
The 3rd-year internship is the first step into the world of work. In a period of upheaval, this is more necessary than ever at a time when meaning is sometimes lacking. We are about to write off a decisive experience to orientate an entire generation, who would lose the opportunity to discover a profession and to face the world of work for the first time. Worse than that, a month and a half after putting pressure on them to find a host company, we then send them an extremely negative signal. We are about to tell 800,000 14 year olds “we have no place for you in our businesses”.
The Centre des Jeunes Dirigeants, which has been fighting for more than eighty years to ensure that young people become entrepreneurs in their own right, calls on employers’ organisations and business leaders to take responsibility.
let our young people down. Many sectors are struggling to recruit: let’s upgrade them. Distorted ideas about the world of work are emerging: let’s bring them
together. Young girls and boys think that certain jobs are inaccessible to them: let’s prove them wrong. The path to the world of work seems strewn with pitfalls: let’s help these young people find their way. We do not have the right to tell our children that they are denied the right to have this first experience in business. Let’s not add to the anxieties they already feel about this very special year, failing at the first hurdle in the world of work.
Many companies are unable to accommodate these young people: others can. We innovate and find solutions to combine exploration, compliance with health standards and interesting experiences. We propose new solutions. It is also up to us networks of entrepreneurs to create new formats with associations that fight for young people: let’s organise talks in schools with teachers, company visits to replace internships, internships reduced by one, two or three days…
Let’s read these first CVs, let’s read these first cover letters, let’s welcome these young people who will themselves have taken their time, selected our companies and offered them this first professional opportunity.
Let’s act like responsible leaders. We are talking about a five-day, unpaid shadowing internship. Of course, the conditions are not ideal, but is there anything ideal about 2020? This experience is decisive for our young people to orient themselves, and therefore for our companies, which will need them tomorrow. Let’s carry it, support it, let’s mobilise.
Let’s make room for our young people, let’s tell them that they are expected. Let’s welcome them for an internship in December. They need us.
Opinion column approved by Emeric Oudin and Julien Leclercq, President and Vice-President of CJD France, 2020 – 2022