Économie et Statistique n° 388-389 - 2005Training-Employment (II): Training and Quality of Employment
Precarious employment and the insertion of young people in to the labour market
Since the start of the 1970s, we have seen the gradual decline of full-time open-ended contracts, which were once the employment «norm». This decline has led to the rapid development of different types of «precarious employment» during the past two decades. The number of people on temporary and subsidised contracts increased fourfold between 1982 and 2001; the number of other fixed-term contracts increased threefold. These different types of precarious employment may still only represent a minority of the total employment (15 % of private sector employment in 2002), yet they represent for many the only way in to the labour market. In 2002, one in three people who had been in the labour market for less than five years were on a temporary employment contract. Several basic indicators over the past twenty years have shown that the conditions of insertion of young people in to the labour market worsened between the start of the 1980s and the end of the 1990s. Unemployment figures for young people continued to rise, despite greater flexibility. Young people often entered the labour market in temporary employment, but this decreasingly led to an open-ended employment contract. Entrants to the labour market had an increasingly high risk of losing their job. Furthermore, the inequalities increased amongst diploma holders: the employment situation of people without a diploma compared to that of those most qualified was much more difficult at the end of the 1990s than at the start of the 1980s. Access to employment seems easier for holders of a higher education technical diploma (such as the DUT, a two-year technical diploma, or the BTS, a vocational training certificate taken after the baccalauréat) than for those holding a general education diploma, despite the equivalent length of their studies. The relative advantage for holders of a professional or technological baccalauréat is less apparent.