International report shows France is not using expat skills

by Ray Clancy on January 4, 2018

France is a popular country with expats moving from all over the world, most notably from the UK, the United States, the Netherlands and Germany but its job prospects could be better, according to new international research.

France is being urged to do more to boost job creation for young people as too many are unemployed, work on temporary contracts and face less than great careers and not good enough training opportunities, the report says.

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France’s economy is growing and the labour market is gradually improving but the number of people out of work for more than 12 months remains high compared with similar countries, according to the report from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

It points out that the skills of those who move to the country are under-utilised. The report reveals that there is a large pool of immigrants who end up working in jobs for which they are over qualified and they also face higher than average unemployment rates.

Yet there are a number of areas where there are big skill shortages, most notably in areas involving teaching and training, computers and electronics, engineering and technology, but also in more transversal skill areas such as verbal abilities, complex problem solving, and management.

To boost job creation and growth, France should improve equality in access to good education and training opportunities, and promote better skills utilisation at a time when a higher share of young people and adults have poor literacy and numeracy skills than in most OECD countries.

It reveals that only 32% of French adults took part in job-related training in a recent 12 month period, compared to over 55% in some European countries such as Denmark, Norway and Finland as well as New Zealand. Among the low skilled the share was only 12%.

Matching people’s skills with the demands of the job market is an issue in France. About one in three workers are either over qualified or under qualified for their job, and the same number are working in a field of study different to the one they studied.

The OECD says that while France is trying to tackle these skills mismatches and shortages with initiatives being set up to make vocational education more attractive and increase the number of apprenticeship places available, more needs to be done.

To strengthen these, the OECD recommends bringing the content of vocational programmes more in line with employer needs and ensuring that the skills of vocational teachers remain up to date with current workplace practices. Moreover, vocational education should be extended to a broader set of sectors, and especially emerging ones.

It also says that career guidance plays a crucial role to better align labour supply and demand. Career guidance provision in French schools has been brought closer in line with the world of work, and free personalised career advice services (CEP) have been made available for adults.

However, it points out that information is often scattered, not linked to labour market needs collected by different actors and not widely used. The OECD recommends the creation of a platform for knowledge sharing among relevant actors and a user-friendly portal that brings together the results.

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