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Missions Locales: Unemployed youngsters in France thrown a lifeline

Missions Locales have been helping young people to find their feet in the adult world for 40 years

Missions Locales claim to help around 1.1 million young people every year Pic: fizkes / Shutterstock

Up to 13% of 15 to 29-year-olds in France were not in work or education/training in 2019, the latest figures show – but a government-driven initiative hopes to help those affected get back on track.

From finding work to offering advice on health, accommodation, transport and even leisure activities, the Missions Locales network aims to integrate young people into adult life.

The initiative was launched in 1981, with 436 associations now present throughout France, covering 6,800 sites. They are found in most cities and towns and at weekly or monthly sessions in outlying rural villages.

Missions Locales claim to help around 1.1 million young people every year. Around half go on to find a job, and the others take on apprenticeships or other forms of education and training, according to the most recent statistics from 2017.

Each branch operates slightly differently, based on the needs of their area.

The Mission Locale for Périgord Noir, based at Sarlat, Dordogne, is spacious and welcoming with comfortable chairs, brightly coloured tables and plenty of leaflets, posters and information to look at while waiting for a rendez-vous. In 2020, it assisted just over 1,000 young people.

Director Anne Guibert said: “We cover a fifth of the Dordogne, with two permanent offices and regular visits to 10 villages.

“Ours is a very rural area where transport is often a problem for young people, so we try to go to them when they cannot come to us.”

'We treat them as adults'

Each young adult is assigned a counsellor, who will stay with them throughout the process: “We make sure they always see the same person.

“It is not a teacher/pupil relationship where we tell them what to do. Instead, we treat them as adults.

“We are there to give support and guidance, but encourage our clients to make their own decisions and take responsibility for themselves.

“Even after the young person has found work, they know they can always come back to see us, let us know how they are getting on, and ask for further advice if need be.”

The first step is to make an appointment with the nearest Mission Locale. It will assess your situation, assign a counsellor and decide the best course of action. Sometimes the young person might need only one or two meetings, or to take part in one of its themed workshops.

Or they could be signed up to one of the different long-term programmes on offer, both at a national and regional level. Some programmes come with a monthly payment. Under-26s are the demographic most likely to be unemployed or working in temporary and low-paid jobs, particularly following Covid-19.

The government has given additional funding to Missions Locales to enable more people to take part in two schemes: Pacea and Garantie Jeunes. The former stands for parcours contractualisé d’accompagnement vers l’emploi et l’autonomie and sees participants commit to 24 months with their Mission Locale, which can start at any time of the year.

The programme is tailored for each individual, including training periods and internships in a workplace

Depending on the participant’s financial situation, there is a monthly payment – up to €497.50 in 2021.

Garantie Jeunes, which is also aimed at 16 to 25-year-olds, is shorter, lasting a minimum of nine months and based on the principle of “employment first” – that finding a job is key to making young people autonomous. A contract is drawn up between the Mission Locale and the participant, who is expected to attend an intensive programme of workshops and coaching on skills such as writing a CV and interview techniques.

It also includes work experience placements with local employers. Each participant is followed by their counsellor and may be eligible for the same monthly payment as the Pacea scheme.

Among other services, Mission Locale du Périgord Noir organises online workshops on apprenticeships, rents, scooters and laptops, gives advice on getting a driving licence, and provides information on working abroad.

See more online here

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