- Title: Workers wanted: French jobs unfilled despite high unemployment
- Date: 30th May 2017
- Summary: VILLAROCHE, FRANCE (FILE - 2016) (REUTERS) VARIOUS OF PLANT OF FRENCH AEROSPACE ENGINE MAKER, SNECMA
- Embargoed: 13th June 2017 15:31
- Keywords: Jobs employment vacancies qualified workers JCB Macron unemployment
- Location: SARCELLES, ALBI, NOISY-LE-GRAND AND VILLAROCHE, FRANCE
- City: SARCELLES, ALBI, NOISY-LE-GRAND AND VILLAROCHE, FRANCE
- Country: France
- Topics: Government/Politics
- Reuters ID: LVA0056J16Z47
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: France, troubled for years by high unemployment, is now grappling with a lack of qualified workers. While it still has 3.5 million registered jobseekers, a growing number of positions lie unfilled because companies can't find the right people.
Many company bosses are pinning their hopes on newly-elected President Emmanuel Macron, and specifically his labour reform plans, to help find willing and able workers.
One such employer is Philippe Girard, who heads the French subsidiary of British construction equipment maker JCB. Despite offering above market pay rates for entry level jobs, his firm has been unable to fill 50 posts for maintenance technicians in its dealership network for more than a year.
Girard has also been looking in vain for six months for three sales executives at the JCB France headquarters in Sarcelles, a satellite town of Paris where unemployment is in double digits.
Critics of the current regulatory regime say rigid labour rules and poorly adapted training unnecessarily keep the unemployment rate close to 10 percent.
Macron hopes to fix the mismatch of supply and demand for workers by pouring billions of euros into training while simplifying the labour code.
The objective is to make it easier for employers to hire but also to shed staff, should their business turn down in the future. To sweeten the pill, he also wants to expand unemployment benefits for people seeking a career change.
Similar but less ambitious measures to free up the labour market have in the past run into resistance in parliament, and provoked sometimes violent protests on the streets.
Undaunted, Macron has made the reforms his top priority, starting talks with trade unions last week. He is also seeking a majority for his party in legislative elections next month to strengthen his hand in pushing them through parliament.
Companies' demand for workers is surging as the economy slowly picks up. Government employment agencies had received 274,000 unfilled job offers as of April, up 14 percent in a year and close to levels not seen since November 2011.
Demand for workers on longer-term contracts - which French firms often avoid, fearing they will be unable to get rid of staff in the future - is growing faster than for short-term hires. More than half of the offers received were for contracts of over six months.
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