French President François Hollande announces 150,000 jobs for unskilled young people as polls reveal a steep slide in his popularity
John Lichfield has been The Independent's man in Paris since 1997, covering French news. Before that, he was the paper's Foreign Editor and he has also worked in Brussels and Washington. In 1999, he was the UK press Awards Foreign Reporter of the year.
Wednesday 29 August 2012
The French government announced a €2.3bn programme to create jobs for 150,000 young people without skills today as President François Hollande attempts to end a steep slide in his popularity.
Although labelled “jobs for the future”, critics dismissed the scheme as an old-fashioned “make-work” programme. The state will pay 75 per cent of wages for youngsters hired by councils or voluntary organisations to take part in environmental, social, cultural or sports projects.
To display a sense of urgency as unemployment in France threatens to top 3,000,000, President Hollande and his Prime Minster, Jean-Marc Ayrault, have ordered parliament to return two weeks early from its summer break on 10 September to push through this and other emergency legislation.
According to one poll this week, President Hollande’s approval rating has fallen by 11 per cent since July – sounding alarm bells in the Elysée Palace. Although a steep fall in the popularity of recently elected presidents is part of the ritual of French politics, there is a worrying difference this time.
It is traditional for presidents to be punished for their actions, even the reforms that they have promised during an election campaign. Mr Hollande is losing support largely because he is seen to have been indecisive in his first three months in power in the face of growing economic crises in France and Europe.
He is also struggling to contain a rise in petrol prices and splits within his Socialist camp, and within his loose Left-Green coalition, over the EU fiscal discipline treaty and nuclear policy.
The “jobs for the future” programme unveiled yesterday by the employment minister Michel Sapin is a scaled-down version of one of Mr Hollande’s campaign promises. It resembles a much-criticised “youth jobs” scheme introduced by the last Socialist government in 1997 and abolished by President Nicolas Sarkozy.
In the new scheme, the jobs will be reserved for “youngsters in great difficulties” – those who have emerged from the school system without a diploma and live in troubled suburbs or rural areas with high youth unemployment. Critics say that they will be paid the minimum wage to undertake mostly pointless work without training. Mr Sapin insists that the jobs will be useful and give the youngsters self-respect and an introduction to the disciplines of the work-place.
There are estimated to be 500,000 young people aged 16-25 in France who have no jobs or skills. Mr Sapin blames their “terrifying situation” on a decline in the education system and the increased disparity between rich and poor regions, and even rich and poor districts of large conurbations.
- 1 Hair loss explained: How and why men go bald
- 2 Game of Thrones season 6: Jon Snow theorists believe the Stark may have a twin sister
- 3 Artist takes LSD, draws herself over different stages of the 9-hour trip to show its effects
- 4 A pint of water every day is the key to losing weight, scientists say
- 5 Russia 'accidentally reveals' number of its soldiers killed in eastern Ukraine
Most expensive city to live in for expatriates: Luanda, Angola takes number one spot with Hong Kong and Zurich in top three
Video of Irish 'professional boxer' fighting Istanbul neighbourhood goes viral in Turkey
Irish tourist filmed fighting with shopkeepers in Turkey says 'they messed with the wrong man'
House of Lords: Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are handed peerages
Moody neurotics are more likely to be creative geniuses, study says
Dresden riots: Protesters in Germany attack refugee buses shouting 'foreigners out'
France train shooting: US soldiers speak of the moment they stopped gunman and 'beat him until he was unconscious'
Labour leadership: Jeremy Corbyn accused of 'deluding' young supporters with 'claptrap'
'Women only' train carriages: Jeremy Corbyn unveils radical move to tackle public harassment
Black holes are a passage to another universe, says Stephen Hawking
Iain Duncan Smith calls for urgent ESA overhaul as part of drive to cut down welfare costs
£13000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Would you like to be part of a ...
£19000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This IT and Telecoms company ar...
£23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The Visitor Fundraising Team is responsi...
£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join ...