France makes quick gains against unemployment but faces structural skills gap

ETIENNE LAURENT

Thousand of protesters participate in a demonstration against the new labour law in Paris, France, 15 September 2016. The controversial reforms aimed to bring down France's unemployment rate of around 10 percent by making the French labour laws more flexible.

France makes quick gains against unemployment but faces structural skills gap


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French unemployment is falling significantly, but there are no quick fixes for skill shortages.

Unemployment has dropped below double digits in the third quarter of 2017 and continued to do so during the fourth quarter. At 8,9%, unemployment by Christmas 2017, France has seen the fastest surge in job creation since 1996, according to Bloomberg. During 2017, unemployment fell by 1,9%, which is the biggest drop in a decade.

President Emmanuel Macron has vowed to reduce unemployment by 7% by 2022. Stubbornly high structural unemployment was one of the key failures of the Hollande administration, in which Macron was the Minister of the Economy.

However, there is little France can do quickly for its widening skills gap. According to the Financial Times, there are two million French without any qualification, a factor that underpins structural unemployment. It is estimated that the French job market failed to fill 200,000- to-330,000 posts due to inability to find the right candidate.

The Macron administration is planning a €15bn investment programme designed to boost the employability of the poorly qualified and the long-term unemployed. If that is to have any effect, it will require two-to-three years.

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