The world is currently going through an unprecedented health crisis, and all the signs are that this will have a major impact on our economy.
We are only just starting to feel the aftereffects, but there is every indication that the entire economic chain will be very seriously affected, and this will hit the most fragile hardest. On the one hand, small and medium-sized companies whose financial reserves are often insufficient to absorb the drastic reduction in their activities; on the other hand, people seeking employment, especially young people entering the job market or those finishing their studies who will soon be looking for their first job.
The April unemployment figures speak for themselves: the overall unemployment rate has increased by 3.6% and the number of job seekers with no activity whatsoever has increased by 22.6%. People who previously worked part-time and were suddenly deprived of this activity represent three-quarters of this increase.
Given this situation, large companies with their considerable financial and non-financial means have an important role to play during the crisis recovery period, both economically through their interactions with many small and medium-sized companies, as well as socially through employment, inclusion and training, or environmentally.
This is precisely what apprenticeship has to offer.
Apprenticeship lies at the intersection between these economic, social and societal challenges: it is good for our young people, who are feeling the full force of this crisis. It must therefore, more than ever, be promoted and encouraged.
When a company takes on a young person as an apprentice, it funds his/her studies, provides training and pays him/her a salary. In this way, the apprentice enters the positive cycle of professional activity. This is of major importance, both for each young person involved, but also on a wider social and economic scale for the whole country. By doing this, the company benefits from the dynamism of all these young people, who are not only keen to learn, but also to contribute to the firm’s overall success.
By offering a training programme leading to qualifications and diplomas, the company brings in and develops a range of distinctive profiles. These young people, with their pragmatism, adaptability, open-mindedness and team spirit can then become the talented employees that the company needs to build its future.
Finally, by encouraging knowledge and expertise-sharing, work-study training is an excellent means to pass on skills and promote inclusion. At a time when equal opportunities, diversity in mainstream sectors and equal access to professional success regardless of background are not progressing as fast as we would like, work-study training is an extremely powerful vehicle for social cohesion. It contributes to breaking down barriers, encouraging diversity within teams and opening up new perspectives in ground-breaking fields, especially technical fields.
I believe, as do others, that all companies, whatever their size, have a political, economic, social and societal role to play alongside governments.
During this major crisis, it is therefore our duty to make sure that the members of one age group are not deprived of their prospects and opportunities as they embark upon their careers.
To this end, the government has just announced a series of important measures to protect young people’s jobs, skills and spending power. ENGIE will play its part in this, because we believe that work-study training is an excellent path towards employment.
Despite the crisis, we will not reduce the scale of our ambitions for work-study training.
We very recently launched our recruitment campaign, with the same ambitions as those we had set at the beginning of the year.
We therefore reassert our goal for 9% of trainees in 2020, which represents 7000 young people in all fields of activity, for 10% of trainees among our employees in 2021 and for a 50% integration rate into the company in 2023.
The crisis will not diminish the technological challenges posed by the energy transition, nor our need for qualified employees, quite the contrary. If there is one key belief that I have formed over the course of my experience, it is this: at the height of a crisis, one must be cautious of short-term decisions that often lead to substantial consequences for organisations in the long term.
It is therefore our duty to provide our support, now, for the young people who are our future.