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Training - an excuse to lay-off or an answer to the crisis?

Translated Tuesday 12 May 2009, by Karen Singleton

France in flux. The forum of alternative ideas.

Vocational training has rarely aroused so much interest. Even the Head of State has appropriated the subject by boasting about picking up a bill, put forward by the CFDT [1] and initially tried out in the Franche-Comté region. The bill aims to create a social investment fund, offering training to numerous victims of the crisis; employees laid off or on a curtailed working week.

It is better to train than to dismiss…the principle sounds constructive. Apart from the fact that the President of the Republic hasn’t planned sufficient finance to cover the schemes needs (€3 billion, out of the 6 deemed necessary, as a minimum by the CFDT), this project nevertheless causes another controversy. Won’t this, some ask, encourage groups to abuse the option of a shorter working week? Is it a case of keeping employees busy waiting for the ‘bad times to pass’ or an implementation of serious training courses leading to qualifications? Just when, according to general opinion, we have to face up to a real ‘skills gap’ the responsibility for which falls as much on companies with their short-term logic as on the State and its budgetary restrictions, doesn’t training risk being deflected from its mission and manipulated into a political trimming, or dressing up, of unemployment?

[1The Confédération Française Démocratique du Travail - a major national trade union

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