Sarkozy unveils €1.3 billion plan to boost youth employment

France’s president Nicolas Sarkozy announced an investment of 1.3 billion euros “in employment and training to help more than 50,000 youth,” promising companies “zero expenses” if they hire a trainee.


On Friday, President Nicolas Sarkozy announced a billion euro scheme to help France’s youth, currently struggling with soaring unemployment. At the heart of the 1.3 billion euro programme are schemes for trainees and interns.


Nicolas Sarkozy set an ambitious goal, announcing that he wants 500,000 young people in training or employed by June 2010. This includes various kinds of medium-term contracts and internships, aiming to cap trainees at 320,000 for the same period.


"There is no reason for France to not massively develop training, which is the track to success," said the president, stating that he preferred to spend public money for training rather than for "assistance".


France has a system of employment contracts that range from short-term internships and medium-term apprenticeships, or training, to permanent jobs.


Exemptions and incentives


A key measure of the project is an exemption from social security contributions for companies taking part in training schemes. "Anyone between June 2009 and June 2010 hiring a trainee won’t have to pay any expenses," said Sarkozy.


For companies with less than 50 employees, an incentive of 1,800 euros will be paid by the state for any apprentice hired by June 2010. "This amounts to a taking care of the costs associated with all young trainees, "said Nicolas Sarkozy.


The president also announced an incentive of 1,000 euros for companies hiring people under-26 in “professionalisation contracts”, an amount to be doubled for someone without a degree.


Paid internships


Sarkozy also spoke of developing regional areas, expressing a desire to see ‘schools of second chance’ grow, saying that the government would provide "a third of the funding."


The president also addressed the issue of internships, announcing that those lasting two months and upwards could now be paid. "At the moment, the right to be paid while doing an internship starts only at three months" he said, adding that "internships must lead to full jobs."


He also promised an incentive of 3,000 euros to businesses that give interns a regular full-time contract before September 2009.

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