Skip to main content

French ‘Civic Service’ eyes massive expansion amid huge demand

AFP (archive photo)

The French government is seeking to expand its “Civic Service” programme for young people that was on Friday described as “a victim of its own success”.

ADVERTISING

The French government is seeking to expand its “Civic Service” programme for young people that was on Friday described as “a victim of its own success”.

The voluntary system, open to young people aged 16 to 25, is seen as a successor to compulsory military service which was phased out in France in 1996.

Volunteers, who are paid 570 euros a month, do their service for six to 12 months on work ranging from helping the homeless to preparing the commemorations for the centenary of the First World War.

Some 35,000 youths signed up for 2014, and French President François Hollande has stated that he wants to see that figure grow to 100,000, which would represent around 15 percent of that age group in France.

Getting there won’t be easy. Youth Minister Najat Vallaud-Belkacem announced this week that an extra 100 million euros had been allocated to the programme (which will cost the taxpayer 140 million in 2014)over the next three years, but this is not nearly enough to reach Hollande’s targets.

François Chérèque, a former head of France’s leading CFDT trade union who is now in charge of the Civic Service programme, pointed out that in order to achieve the target the entire Youth Ministry budget would have to be tripled.

“Our own budget will need to be supplemented with cash from other ministries and from private partnerships,” he told reporters on Friday. “We will also be seeking European funds to expand the programme.”

As it is, an average of five young people apply for every vacancy, seeing Civic Service as a way out of unemployment and a useful addition to their CVs before they head into the world of work.

Chérèque wants to massively expand the options for young people, including working for the “sapeurs pompiers” (firemen-paramedics), giving them free training for their driving tests and other civilian training schemes that were available to young people (men) in the days of military service.

Civic service in France is open to French citizens as well as citizens of other European countries who have been living in France for a year.

Of those recruited in 2013, 58 percent were women, had an average age of 21 and worked on their programmes for eight months.

 

This page is not available

The page no longer exists or did not exist at all. Please check the address or use the links below to access the requested content.