Last week, Prime Minister Jean Castex announced a 6.5 billion euro plan to promote the integration of young people into the professional world. With this plan, the government is sending a positive signal to some 700,000 young people who will enter the job market at the start of the school year, as well as to companies still cautious about hiring after four months of crisis and in fear of another potential lockdown in September.
At the CJD, we welcome the spirit of this plan, because we are convinced that young people are essential to economic recovery. This is what our long-term commitment means to us: to fight so that the employability of young people is perceived not as a risk to be compensated for but as an opportunity to be created.
This opportunity leads to a prior need: bridging the gulf that separates the world of education from business. No, the financial incentives of the “One young person, one solution” plan are not enough, firstly because they are insignificant compared to the cost of job creation, but above all because they cannot be used without prior support being given to the professional world. It is crucial to make young people and educational staff aware of the realities of business well before they enter working life, without bias or distortion of the truth.
Several directions should be taken to do this.
Initially, it is up to us to acculturate young people into business life in order to break down the barriers between school and business. This involves a multitude of tools already put to the test by members of the CJD: support for classes to enable students to explore the entrepreneurial world in more depth, creation of mini-companies involving groups of university students or high school students in coordination with leading entrepreneurs in their regions, an increase in ‘exploratory’ internships, etc.
Leaders, trainers and public authorities must then coordinate to secure the integration paths of young people in companies. At the forefront of the CJD’s priorities is the promotion of apprenticeships to the educational world. To date, companies and National Education – from high school to the Apprentice Training Centre – do not talk to each other enough. This is what the “Un·e JD, Un·e Alternant·e” project, launched by the CJD onto its network a few weeks ago, is all about: mobilising our 118 local branches so that they can touch base with the Apprentice Training Centres in their regions and offer opportunities to future apprentices from September.
Finally, it remains for the State to assume its responsibilities to stimulate youth employment by using levers other than financial aid. Public purchasers could, for example, direct public procurement more intensely towards companies that make a point of hiring young people. This would involve the insertion of “first job clauses” conditioning the award of public contracts to companies that place their trust in first-timers, or even “apprenticeship clauses” favouring companies that plan to mobilise apprentices on the market. This public market lever has a twofold advantage: it would stimulate the employment of young people and would reward the training efforts made by the company.
In 2020, despite all the financial aid from the State for youth employment, there is still a lot to be done to complete the continuum linking the world of education, the professional world and public authorities. Let’s take advantage of the political commitment displayed by the government with regard to youth to deepen and consolidate this alliance!
Opinion column approved by Emeric Oudin, President of CJD France, 2020 – 2022