Closing the Grande conférence sociale pour l'emploi (Great Social Conference for Employment), the Prime Minister presented the Government's priorities for the coming year, with employment at the top of the list, in particular that of young people and older workers, but also apprenticeships and the purchasing power of households.
The Prime Minister closed the 3rd Grande conférence sociale on Tuesday 8 July, "an important moment in a permanent work process between social partners, collectivities and the Government. Accelerating social dialogue (...) is useful for the French people, employees and companies" he explained during his speech, specifying that a "prolonged refusal of the dialogue would be an incomprehensible stance. Our country's situation requires everyone to to be fully aware of their responsibilities."
For the employment of young people
Manuel Valls reminded everyone in attendance that employment is the top priority, especially the employment of young people. Thus, for the first time, the question of education and the vocational integration of young people was the subject of a round table during the social conference.
The Prime Minister presented the individual programme on the information, orientation and discovery of the economic and professional universe, which should allow young people to be better assisted in their orientation, and which will be tested as of the second year of secondary school by associating it with the economic players and social partners.
In order to promote the spirit of initiative and the desire to learn starting in school, the State, through a network of establishments, will develop hubs to gather proposals for "training periods in a vocational setting" and internships, and is calling on professionals for their investment to succeed. The battle to reduce drop-out rates also remains a priority with, in particular, the right to return to education for 16-25 year-olds provided for by the law on the reorganisation of schools, but also civil service for young dropouts which will be doubled by developing involvement in the missions locales (local task forces for helping young adults make the transition from school to work).
For young people facing great difficulty, the State will draw on €160 million in European funds over two years:
with specific additional assistance for 65,000 young people by the Pôle emploi (the French national Jobcentre);
with the mobilisation of the measures of the Contrat d'insertion dans la vie sociale (CIVIS, or "social integration contract"), strengthened for 68,000 others, in the regions where the unemployment rate for young people is above 25%.
The youth guarantee
Manuel Valls announced the goal of 50,000 beneficiaries of the plan as of 2015 to increase to 100,000 in 2017. This reinforced assistance plan for the employment of 18-25 year-olds with unstable job situations, with an allowance of approximately €450 monthly, is currently being tested in 10 departments.
For apprenticeships: a relaunch plan
"The recent development is worrisome: apprenticeships are in decline and today there are less apprentices than there were a year ago" pointed out the Prime Minister, recalling the goal of 500,000 apprentices in 2017, set by the President of the Republic.
To reach this goal, Manuel Valls announced that an additional €200 million will be made available and voted on as of next week:
First, to increase the potential number of employers of apprentices and incite business leaders to recruit an apprentice for the first time, a benefit of €1,000 per apprentice will be implemented in the professional sectors where an industry agreement has been reached. It is a strong incentive for business leaders, that will be added to the benefits already in place in VSEs.
Second, these funds will make it possible to release additional funds for both the quantitative and the qualitative development of apprenticeships, by stabilising the distribution of the apprenticeship tax to bolster the role of the regions and give companies and industry sectors more margins. Naturally, the latter will have to commit to real progress contracts: an increase in the number of apprentices but also the promotion and training of apprentice trainers, assistance for the apprentice training centres (CFA) to find employers, prevention of job termination, diversity in recruitments, hiring young people from sensitive urban zones, etc.
In addition to this exceptional release of funds,€100 million will be added from the European funds which will be dedicated over the next two years to the social integration of young people, in particular apprentices. Calls for projects will make it possible to help young people address the concrete problems they encounter: getting a driving license, housing, financing first big purchases. €80 million will fund new training courses, and housing capacities will be increased in the framework of the investments for the future programme.
For the employment of seniors
Because completing a professional career is sometimes as difficult as starting one, and because unemployment of workers aged over 50 has increased by 10%, Manuel Valls announced that a specific action plan will be put in place by the Ministry of Labour.
The Pôle emploi will extend its reinforced assistance so that it covers 270,000 job seekers who are facing particular difficulties in finding a job, or 80,000 more than today.
Professional integration contracts (CIE), for hiring into the market sector, will be focused on older workers, long-term unemployed workers and disabled workers. The President of the Republic stated that 80,000 of these CIEs will be deployed in 2015.
For growth and purchasing power
The Prime Minister announced that Arnaud Montebourg will present a growth and purchasing power law which should make it possible to restore economic growth, sustainable development and job creation.
A wage observatory board will be created within the Commissariat général à la stratégie et à la prospective (Commissioner General for strategy and forecasting) to group together the studies and statistics on wages that are currently lacking and to add to the works of the National Commission on Collective Bargaining (CNNC).
But beyond the question of wages, the one concerning purchasing power is essential. In order to reboot the purchasing power of households, the Prime Minister made a reminder of the tax decrease movement in the finance laws adopted by Parliament:
As of this year, 3.7 million households will see their income tax lowered by up to €700.
As of 1st January 2015, a reduction in social security contributions will directly increase the net salary of 5 million employees and of more than two million civil servants.
Manuel Valls announced that these measures will be extended and made durable, and that the Finance Act for 2015 will see to a drop in income tax for middle-class households.