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Youth, France’s trump card

Young people are a great asset for France, which is not sufficiently highlighted, laments Jean-Hervé Lorenzi. Because it is urgent to give our country a policy that finally values young people, by promoting professional integration and entrepreneurship, this subject will be a priority of the next Economic Meetings in Aix-en-Provence.

There are 9.2 million of them aged 18 to 29. They are called “sacrificed youth”, which is quite excessive, but it is clear that this formidable asset that young people represent for our country is not sufficiently highlighted. There are, in fact, only a few policies aimed at young people, and the figures are unmistakable. The age of entry into work is one of the highest in Europe, at 22 years and 5 months, the poverty rate is higher than that of other age groups and everyone knows the great housing problem they face. In addition, there are about 1.5 million desocialized young people known as NEETS, who have no vocation to remain so. This integration of young people, for whom the transition from school to the world of work is very chaotic, is the major problem of our development. The fight against this loss of meaning linked to these dead-end paths, these aborted projects, these young people without training, this wasted energy should be the great national cause.

The Economic Absurdity of Treating Youth

Preventing young people from entering the salaried workforce or hindering them in their entrepreneurial project is an economic absurdity.

First, there is a social and economic cost of leaving young people to fend for themselves, while the number of NEETs is growing like the queues of students for food banks. Preventing them from achieving autonomy means increasing social spending for a state that is already in deficit and already in debt.

It is also a constrained innovation that limits our long-term growth. Where will be the great innovations of tomorrow, the new products, the new vaccines, the new technologies that we sorely lack today, if our young people are prevented in their development? With sluggish growth and insurmountable decarbonisation challenges, if we leave our youth in the lurch, we prevent ourselves from facing the imperatives of modern societies.

Finally, it is an increase in inequality due to the hyper-concentration of savings in the hands of seniors. France is a fractured country, the yellow vest crisis and the movement against pension reform have taught us more than ever. Let us not add to this a generational divide, which is likely to generate resentment and pessimism.

Young people in search of meaning at work

I am not one of those who believe in a pseudo-rupture between youth and the world of work. Young people want more than anyone else to meet the challenges of tomorrow. At the Cercle des Économistes we conducted our own survey of 35,000 young people, and the results are enlightening. Young people have not chosen laziness, far from it. She wants to work, but not under any conditions. In her work, the questions of remuneration, usefulness and working conditions, the overly ossified hierarchy, and recognition emerge. 90% of them also consider an entrepreneurial project. However, according to our survey, 35% of these young people admit to lacking the information to start their own business, or for whom entrepreneurship is synonymous with “struggles”.

This climate generation, hyper-sensitive to ecology and issues of discrimination, wants more than previous generations to be continuously trained and to invest in the world of work to disrupt it from within. The 800,000 young French people who enter the job market every year, coupled with our dynamic French demographics, are our greatest hope. It is not essentially from the public authorities and the State that the transformations essential to society will come. A large part of them will come from French society itself.

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