“We’ll have to go and get it with our teeth”: full employment, Macron’s bold bet

At first glance, it’s an arcade game store like any other, nestled between a Fnac, an O’Tacos restaurant and a decor store, in the heart of Rosny2, one of the largest shopping centers in Ile-de-France. Here, on weekends, we come with the family, little ones in strollers, to devour a hamburger or a slice of pizza, before going to fill the fridge at the giant Carrefour hypermarket on the ground floor. A temple of consumption for a middle class more concerned about the end of the month than the end of the world. Behind large bay windows, interactive terminals welcome visitors, who can then launch a escape room. The mission of the players? Rescue, risking their lives, a sleeping cosmonaut. A little further, virtual reality headsets are available. Entry is free, specifies a large label blue attached to one of the windows.

Welcome to “Yookan, the discoverer of the future”. It’s not about a new place for metaverse fans: we’re in a local branch of Pôle emploi. A type of third place of 1000 square meters financed jointly by the state and the regional council of Ile-de-France. This unique initiative in France lifted the curtain only a year ago. You don’t come here to polish your resume or answer an ad, but to come out of your shell, fill the void, imagine a desirable future, and reconnect with reality. After the game, it’s all about your discovery soft skills : in the language of recruiters, these are all the skills that never appear on a CV, such as the ability to take initiative or take risks, team management… With the virtual reality helmet on your head, you can imagine being a crane operator, ambulance driver, bus driver… This mother of a family came here by chance last spring with her son Dylan, a somewhat clueless high school dropout: “He was looked after by Michel, a coach, who accompanied him and even found him a CDD for the summer. That put him back on track. Now, I come to see Michel from time to time to thank him.” After several meetings, some are oriented towards training, others benefit from immersion courses in local companies. Nacera Torche, director of Yookan, assures us: such structures are needed to return to the world of work all those who have left it for a long time.

Quietly, France is experiencing a real employment revolution. While the word unemployment has disappeared from political contests, it is no longer even written on union banners during large demonstrations. At companies, HR directors are tearing their hair out to attract and retain their best talent. The job shortage is no longer just about restaurants, human services, or smart tech and coding executives. They affect all sectors to varying degrees. 4.5 million new positions could be offered by the end of 2023, according to a recent study by Adecco. In government, the target of full employment at the end of the five-year term is at the top of the pile. Full employment, two words that ring from the bell bottom of the 1970s, when France still believed in social mobility. During the last presidential campaign, Emmanuel Macron made it a marker, mentioning the term six times in his program and his grand speech at the Porte de Versailles, the day before the second round (against just once in 2017).

“We will take them by the teeth,” promises Paul Bazin de Jessey, deputy director of Pôle emploi.

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A return to full employment is the wonderful solution: less social spending, more contribution income, more income, more growth and less public deficits… But to achieve the Holy Grail, we will have to bring the unemployment rate down from 7.4% today. to 5%, a level not seen since 1978! Easier said than done. Admittedly, it fell by almost two points during the previous five-year term. Except that in this area it is like a marathon, the last kilometers are the hardest. And the most expensive. “We will take them by the teeth,” promises Paul Bazin de Jessey, deputy director of Pôle emploi.

Complicated, then. First, because the stench of recession has begun to blow in France. The latest figures published by the Ministry of Employment had the effect of a small drop of cold water sliding down the back: for the first time since spring 2020, the number of unemployed stopped falling in the third quarter of 2022. This is not a disaster, but a small warning. All categories combined, 5.2 million people still refer to the Pôle Emploi listings. And the coming months may be more difficult. In the 2023 finance bill, the government decided to ease the pedal on financial “bonuses” for learning established at the height of the pandemic in the summer of 2020. “The reality is that of the 700,000 job creations that France has registered since year 2019, 400 thousand are apprentices”, calculates Bruno Coquet, economist and employment specialist at OFCE.

Between 800,000 and 1.2 million people will return to work

The Macron promise is also tricky to keep because to get there, it would be necessary to return to employment between 800,000 and 1.2 million people who are currently unemployed. “However, there we touch populations that not only have problems with qualifications, but often also major social problems”, testifies Bertrand Martinot, former general delegate for employment of Nicolas Sarkozy and adviser of the Montaigne institute. “This means working much more for the employment of these women and men, who are also victims of peripheral obstacles such as lack of housing or illiteracy…” explains the economist and Rilindash MP Marc Ferracci.

These famous “peripheral brakes” we experience every day at Humando, a subsidiary of the Adecco group. On the second floor of a soulless building in Saint-Denis, north of Paris, the view is breathtaking on the flying disc of the Stade de France and the many construction sites started to host the Paris 2024 Olympic Games. Around the table, Floyd ( 22 years old), Khalilou (35 years old) and Marie-Marguerite (36 years old) have been supported for almost two years by the teams of this temporary integration work company, whose local branch specializes in building trade. Difficult years behind them and finally a horizon. All three were followed closely, trained, sent on a mission to neighboring countries. All three have found a permanent position as formators. “At first I thought I was being offered a job as a hairdresser… Now, I’m a team leader, it’s rare for a woman to work in the construction industry,” says Marie-Marguerite with a laugh. a single mother.

Start again from the beginning

Those who arrive here are sent by Pôle emploi, missions or local associations. More than half have no income, a third do not speak French. So we have to start over. Work on self-confidence, interpersonal skills, punctuality, relationships with others. In the very idea of ​​connecting five working days. “We put the CV aside, that’s not what matters in the beginning,” says Mohand Hebbache, Humando’s director of development. Integration managers take care of everything from paperwork to find housing, childcare, finding a computer to do all the administrative procedures online… Of course, the supervision rate is calibrated, with 1 permanent in 12 temporary employees, against a report. from 1 to 30 or 50 in a traditional temporary work agency. “It’s not enough to put someone in front of a job, you have to do everything else,” explains Jean-François Connan, director of social and environmental impact of the Adecco group. After two years of follow-up, they must leave the facility. But the results are worth the investment. The rate of return to employment reached 70% and almost 45% found a long-term job. “Me, I’m thinking of creating my own box and then maybe I can take care of the inset as well?” Floyd asks. Khalilou signed the lease for his first home last month. For two and a half years, he lived in a hotel room with his wife and two children.

The RSA trap

They succeeded, but for others, including the two million RSA recipients stuck in limbo, the problem remains. “This is the real blind spot of the government’s objective. We are talking about the unemployment insurance reform and this will have an effect for those who are close to employment, but for a very large majority of those who have fallen into RSA, the reform does not bother them at all”, emphasizes Bertrand Martinot. A Court of Auditors report published earlier this year lambasted the system: costly, ineffective in terms of support and return to work. On average, seven years after entering the RSA, only 34% have left it, and among those, only a third have found a stable job, according to Cambon Street sages.

In Pôle Emploi they say they want to intensify “specific” courses for the long-term unemployed, who still represent 34% of those registered and for this reason, rely more and more on private structures. Like Talent Solution (formerly Tingari), a human resources firm, a subsidiary of the Manpower group. “We respond to calls for tenders and 95% of our turnover comes from public authorities”, explains Bénédicte Guesné, responsible for public procurement activities. Recently, the company won a call for tender from the Pôle Emploi for a program called “Parcours emploi santé”, intended for the long-term unemployed. “We do a very special job with them before we talk about employment. We put them in contact with doctors, physiotherapists, occupational therapists”, continues Bénédicte Guesné. The structure already employs around thirty psychologists and has even recently hired a nurse for its Breton site. Then it is rewarded according to different programs which can last from 3 to 15 months from 500 euros to 2000 euros per accompanied person, in case of return to permanent work.

The Big Bang “France Travail”

A cost that is already making people shudder. France is one of the countries that spends the most on back-to-work aid, just over 2.5% of GDP each year compared to 1% in Germany, Ifrap experts point out in a recent study. “Honestly, on the ground, we spend a lot and it’s generally ineffective. Between what Pôle emploi, local missions, associations, regions and departments are doing, it’s a total mess. When it doesn’t work, everyone turns back the hot potato. “, complains Bertrand Martinot.

Creating a one-stop shop, better coordinating all actions and reconnecting everyone, this is the objective of France Travail, Olivier Dussopt’s next big project, withunemployment insurance and pensions. Another one on the very busy agenda of the Minister of Labour… and full employment.


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