Measures taken rapidly by the government and the regions at the beginning of the health crisis (March 2020) have helped to avoid an economic shock. The announcement of a second pandemic wave could lead to the bankruptcy of many small and large companies and a sharp increase in the unemployment rate, calling for urgent action.

A major EUR 100 billion recovery plan (called #France Relance), aiming to anticipate and overcome economic problems, was announced on 3 September 2020 by the Prime Minister, Jean Castex. It comprises three strands: ecology/green transition, competitiveness and social/territorial cohesion.

Training to save jobs

Some initial strands of the recovery plan are known. EUR 30 billion has been allocated to ecology, with emphasis on renovation work. Within this cross-cutting objective, there is a need to review several professions in economic sectors such as building or energy management and update respective VET programmes.  

However, the number one priority of #FranceRelance is employment. According to the Prime Minister the focus is on ‘rehabilitating work seen as value for cohesion and progress’. Numerous measures are designed to safeguard employment (including partial activity), encourage recruitment and support jobseekers, especially the youngest. Most are financial aids to firms or extra funds to increase the number of beneficiaries of employment measures. EUR 15 billion will be allocated for boosting employment and (new) skills acquisition, including funding new training pathways. The main lines of action include:

  • EUR 2 billion to finance aid for the recruitment of apprentices (IVET) and professionalisation contracts (CVET);
  • EUR 1 billion to be allocated to FNE-Formation over the period 2020-21 to enable 250 000 employees to be trained while in partial employment. FNE-Formation runs State financial aid covering the pedagogical costs of training actions for employees in jobs facing transformations linked to economic change, as well as upskilling/reskilling actions for new jobs or occupations emerging due to technological advancements and/or changes in production conditions;
  • relaunch of assisted contracts in the commercial sector (CUI-CIE, contrat initiative emploi, suspended in 2018) with a budget envelope for 10 000 contracts in 2020 and 50 000 in 2021. The initiative supports professional integration of registered unemployed people to conclude a (short- or long-term) contract with a company for on-the-job training in occupations/activities identified within beneficiaries’ individual professional development plans. For those already in active employment, such contracts aim to help employees gain relevant experience and skills though periods of situational/workplace training.
  • reinforcement of assisted contracts (for implementing training actions to support professional (re)integration) in the non-market sector (PEC, Parcours Emploi Compétences, measure managed by Pôle Emploi). 60 000 PECs for young people are to be implemented in 2021, in addition to the usual 20 000 PECs.

The French regions at the rendez-vous

French regions, with a responsibility to implement VET at regional level, have committed more than EUR 1.7 billion to emergency measures in response to the health crisis. They are ready to manage European funds, develop regional recovery plans and act as a relay for the implementation of sectoral measures. They plan to increase their participation by 30% (from EUR 14 to 20 billion) in 2021 to fund more training sessions and/or jointly finance national measures in their territories.

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Recovery plan (#FranceRelance) presentation by the Prime Minister on 3 September 2020 and accompanying video

Recovery plan, discover the priorities 

Recovery plan, all the measures