French labour minister rejects EU criticism of labour shortages

14 Jun 2023

France’s labour minister has rebuffed criticism from the European Union that his government wasn’t taking sufficient action to reduce labour shortages.

Speaking on the sidelines of the Employment and Social Affairs Council (EPSCO) in Luxembourg, Olivier Dussopt said his government was “hard at work.” 

Ministers at the meeting discussed the Commission’s recommendations on the European Semester, the aim of which is to coordinate the economic, social and budgetary policies of member states. 

In regard to France, the recommendations cautioned of “macroeconomic imbalances”, specifically labour shortages. 

According to data from the country’s employment agency, Pôle emploi, 61% of recruitments are considered “difficult”; in 85% of cases, recruiters cite an insufficient number of candidates, whilst 79% highlight unsuitable profiles. 

Although France “has boosted investment in the upskilling and reskilling of workers,” the Commission stated there were still several barriers, such as low participation of unskilled workers in the labour market compared to other countries in Europe, Euractiv reports.

Furthermore, “labour and skills shortages in sectors and occupations key for the green transition […] are creating bottlenecks in the transition to a net-zero economy” by 2050, according to the EU Green Deal objectives.

Yet the labour minister spurned the criticism, saying the country is “hard at work” and over the last year, the government has “carried out a number of labour market reforms,” such as revised unemployment insurance rules.

Under the reforms, the duration of unemployment benefits will decline by 25% when the national unemployment rate falls under 9% and will revert back when the rate exceeds this level or moves up by more than 0.8% percentage points over a quarter.

In addition, Dussopt highlighted the French Skills Investment Plan (PIC) renewal and the Full Employment Bill as effective in tackling recruitment problems.

“It’s a subject we’re working on [but] with optimism insofar as our economy continues to create jobs […]. The march towards full employment continues,” Dussopt went on to say.