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Shifting Focus: Policies to Support the Labor Market Integration of New Immigrants in France

Reports
October 2014

Shifting Focus: Policies to Support the Labor Market Integration of New Immigrants in France

In France, immigrants are more likely to be unemployed or in low-skilled work than their native-born peers. Immigrants face a number of challenges to entering and advancing in the French labor market, including discrimination, foreign qualification recognition, and limited professional networks. Moreover, the French labor market is structurally unfavorable to new entries, whether migrants or native-born youth, and foreign nationals from outside the European Union (EU) are barred from many public- and private-sector jobs.

This report is part of a research project funded by the European Union and conducted in collaboration with the International Labour Office. The case studies in the first phase of the project consider the influence of individual characteristics and broader economic conditions on the employment prospects of foreign-born workers. The reports in the second phase evaluate the effectiveness of integration and workforce development policies in helping foreign-born workers overcome these barriers and move up into middle-skilled positions that pay a family-sustaining wage. The six case study countries are the Czech Republic, France, Germany, Spain, Sweden, and the United Kingdom.

EU

This project is funded by the European Union

Despite these obstacles, the government has not made a policy priority of getting newcomers into jobs. Integration policy in France has traditionally come in the form of urban policy, targeting disadvantaged neighborhoods that often happen to have a large number of immigrants and their children rather than immigrants themselves. While there have been significant reforms to integration policy since 2000, the focus of these reforms has been cultural, not socioeconomic, integration. Many features of France's robust workforce development system are available to immigrants upon arrival, including use of the public employment service that provides job search assistance and career counseling, but immigrants are excluded from the more prestigious elements like vocational training.

This report examines how well mainstream employment policies, in combination with recent integration policy reforms—particularly the introduction of a new category, "newly arrived migrants"—are supporting migrants' integration into the labor market and advancement into middle-skilled jobs. The report provides an overview of immigrants' progress in the French labor market and analyzes recent French immigration policy and the relevant aspects of employment policy, language and vocational training, and antidiscrimination programs. Finally, the report proposes some policy recommendations.

Table of Contents 

I. Introduction

II. Immigrants and the French Labor Market

Immigrants in the Labor Market

III. Recent Trends in Immigration Policy in France: Recent Reforms in an Unstable Administrative Context

IV. Mainstream Employment Policies

A. Employment Services

B. The Vocational Training System

V. Employment and Work-Relevant Policies Targeting Immigrants

A. The RIC Program

B. Language Training: A Rapidly Expanding Action

C. Skills Assessment

D. Other Ministry Employment Programs Targeting Migrants

E. Credential Recognition

F. Diversity at the Workplace and Antidiscrimination Policies

VI. Conclusions and Policy Recommendations