France Offers to Pay Most of Young Hires’ Salaries
PARIS (AP) - The French government is offering to pay most of the salaries of tens of thousands of young people hired next year, as part of President Francois Hollande’s promise to wage war on unemployment.
France’s unemployment rate is 10 percent, but 22.8 percent for those under 25 - an imbalance that many European countries are struggling with.
French employers are especially reluctant to hire young people because restrictive labor laws make it very hard for companies to lay off employees. In addition, many industries require a series of often unpaid internships before landing a full-time job or only offer very short-term contracts for those just starting out.
Under the plan, unveiled at a Cabinet meeting Wednesday, companies that hire a person between 16 and 25 for at least a year will only have to pay as little as 25 percent of the salary. The government hopes to create 100,000 of these "contracts for the future" next year and another 50,000 in 2014. It has promised to continue paying its share of the employee’s salary for three years.
"We are waging a battle for jobs," Hollande told Cabinet ministers, according to government spokeswoman Najat Vallaud-Belkacem. "It’s the No. 1 challenge of our mandate."
The government will give preference to young people hired from poor urban or rural areas that have been hit hardest by rising unemployment. Certain sectors will also be favored, such as medicine and digital or green technology.