Despite the abundance and dedication of public policies aimed at promoting the employment of young people, especially the least qualified, France lags significantly behind other developed countries in this field. This is reflected in the high proportion of young people who are neither in employment nor in education or training (the so-called NEETs). According to INSEE, in 2019, 12.9% of 15-29 year olds in France fell into this category, i.e. 1.5 million young people. Within the euro zone, only Spain, Greece and Italy are doing worse, according to the OECD (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development).

To reverse this trend, which is detrimental to the economic and social inclusion of young people, France has implemented various measures to develop apprenticeships, which combine work-study training with professional experience in a company. What are the reasons for this? Firstly, in Germany, this type of course is very popular and the integration of young people into the labor market is higher than in France. Secondly, the unemployment rate of apprentices in France is much lower than that of young people from vocational high schools. This correlation has led public authorities to promote apprenticeship.

However, correlation is not causation and any public policy must be scientifically evaluated to demonstrate its effectiveness. And this is where the problem lies, because apprenticeship, in its current mode of operation, does not necessarily seem to be a better stepping stone for integrating young people into the job market.

In this new issue of the Opinions & Débats collection, Pierre Cahuc and Jérémy Hervelin, researchers at the Securing Career Paths Chair, have carried out a study that combines testing and randomization to compare the employment rate of apprentices and students in vocational high schools three years after their course. The conclusions of this study provide concrete and quantified information, while also making recommendations for improving existing systems.

Enjoy your reading!

Jean-Michel Beacco
Delegate General of the Institut Louis Bachelier