Posted Jul 20, 2022, 5:39 PM
There is often no need to cross the street to distinguish the general shortage of labor that streaks France. “Server search”, “Seller search”, “shortened hours due to lack of staff”, we read on the small signs pasted on the windows throughout the country. Shops, farms, factories, and especially in service agencies, no sector escapes recruitment difficulties.
“A lack of personnel immediately means less turnover”. It is enough to discuss with a boss of SME, or with that of a great name of capitalism, to arrive sooner or later at this crucial question of human resources. For Bruno Le Maire, it is even the “second emergency” to be dealt with within the government, behind the question of purchasing power. “There is nothing more “Shadockian” than still having so much unemployment and so many companies looking for employees. We must deal with this problem from the start of the school year in September, ”insisted the Minister of Economy and Finance at the Economic Meetings of Aix-en-Provence, at the beginning of July. In June, 58% of companies surveyed were concerned by the subject, according to the Banque de France. A year ago, the level was 37%.
To the structural shortcomings – caregivers, blacksmiths, pharmacists, data analysts, carpenters, mechanics, helpers, roofers-zinc workers, etc…-, are added economic challenges, linked to the commotion in the employment caused by the coronavirus pandemic. Some did not return to their post, having found better elsewhere. Others wanted to change their lives. Between the “great resignation” that points in France, the poor hardship/remuneration ratios and the shortcomings of professional training, “Les Echos” tour the sectors on the front line of the lack of personnel.
1) Transport: desperately looking for drivers
The glaring lack of truck drivers primarily affects the road transport-logistics sector. The National Federation of Road Carriers estimates that 40,000 drivers are needed each year. This tension is primarily explained by the aging of its active population, the impact of the rise of e-commerce being “minority”.
While the environmental issue could weigh on young people, the FNTR stresses the need to confirm, in the wake of the health crisis, the “strategic nature of the profession” for the economy.
The shortage of drivers is even greater for road passenger transport, especially for school transport. “There is a shortage of 8,000 drivers for the start of the school year, almost exclusively for schools, indicates the president of the National Federation of Passenger Transport, Jean-Sébastien Barrault. Regional presidents and public authorities at the highest level are worried.
In addition to a very powerful structural phenomenon of “grandpa-boom” with an average age exceeding 50 years, this emergency situation has been amplified by the reduction in staff following the health crisis (confinements, cessation of school outings). “The number of employees, 80% of whom are drivers, has increased from 103,000 to 97,000. Many drivers have gone into the road transport of goods, ”explains the president of the FNTV.
2) Environmental actors under pressure
Called to develop, environmental professions are already facing serious recruitment difficulties. At Veolia management, the shortage is described as “structural”. The group, which offers 2,000 permanent positions, is looking for skilled workers, data analysts and engineers. “We are in competition with other industrial sectors, start-ups, local authorities who are also looking for expertise”, we observe at the environmental giant, which has 50,000 employees in France.
Faced with this chronic situation, the management of Veolia has decided to increase the number of work-study trainees, which would increase from 2,000 last year to 2,500 in 2023, by targeting more trades deemed to be priorities. The group also intends to accentuate the conversion of CDD into CDI, 1,000 positions being affected today. And faced with the proliferation of retirements, he is also thinking about significantly strengthening his internal training.
This lack of manpower is also observed by Séché Environnement, a specialist in waste management and depollution services. The needs relate in particular to chemists, maintenance technicians of industrial installations, but also drivers. “The issue of drivers is a general one. The demand is such that they can change companies overnight,” observes Maxime Séchet, the general manager. Skill pools are not that important.” The family group has created “a school of knowledge” in order to better cover its personnel needs.
3) Tourism: struggling seasonal jobs
Summer is in full swing, and tourism in France is sorely lacking in seasonal workers to meet the high demand from holidaymakers. This is the case in the hotel and catering industry, entertainment and leisure. “200,000 job offers were published in the second quarter of 2022, or 50% more than last year”, points out Adecco, noting many offers remained pending.
The intensification of this tension is “largely linked to the drying up of traditional recruitment channels” (spontaneous applications, personal networks, cooptation) and “to the scarcity of candidates, whose expectations have evolved since the health crisis, in search for more favorable activities and working conditions”, points out the interim specialist.
Housekeeping (+103% over one year) and general-purpose hotel employee (+87%) are the jobs with the highest demand, particularly in Ile-de-France, where international tourism is picking up strongly. .
4) A recurring shortage in restaurants
In catering, the lack of staff is not a passing fancy. The sector was already suffering long before the Covid from a recurring need for employees in a universe where the “turnover” is high. The pandemic has accelerated the phenomenon. Up to 220,000 positions would be, overall, to be filled, including seasonal workers, in a hotel and catering sector which had, according to Dares, around 1.3 million employees in February 2020.
France is looking for 28,000 cooks this summer, 61% more than last year, and 69% of recruitments are considered difficult. This tension is found at all levels: waiters (+14%), kitchen staff (+44%) and dishwashers (+61%) with here too in more than 60% of cases difficulties in recruiting.
To restore attractiveness to these professions, the salary scale was revised in February. The new scale shows an increase of 16.3% on average and 4.1 to 6% at the first salary level. Discussions on working conditions are still ongoing.
Institutions have learned to deal with a chronic shortage of staff. It’s time for versatility, at the risk of further exhausting the teams in place. Even in the middle of the tourist season, some of the restaurants limit their opening days. Depending on the location, some have opted for a systematic closing in the evening or at noon.
5) Luxury lacks hands to support its growth
In this sector, which has been growing for a good decade, the labor shortage has worsened . Many “boomer” workshop managers are preparing to leave the workforce. We lack hands from leather to porcelain, for know-how requiring hours and patience. According to a study by the Colbert Committee carried out in December 2021, 85% of its houses surveyed “encounter recruitment difficulties”. More than 20,000 jobs would be unfilled in France in the craft industry linked to the sector.
“Tension in production jobs has existed for years. But from worrying, the situation has become alarming thanks to the exceptional recovery of the sector coming out of Covid, which must cope with the increased demand for luxury products, ”said Bénédicte Epinay, general delegate of the Colbert Committee.
In this setting, the major players in French luxury are opening their own training centers. “We need to meet young people to better orient them to these jobs, training, transmission… The wishes for retraining have also never been so strong. There is an urgent need to act because we lack qualified personnel, “said Chantal Gaemperle, director of human resources and synergies at LVMH (owner of “Echos”).
Struggling to keep up with demand, Hermès has since accelerated its recruitment program. The saddler, which has 22 production sites in France, also mentions the recruitment of employees in professional retraining, seduced by leather goods and “trained successfully”.
6) Critical food shortage in agriculture
To feed the French, and limit the country’s dependence on imports, you have to recruit. Tricolor agriculture has around one million jobs. The needs are estimated by the FNSEA between 60,000 to 70,000 positions – from the head of culture to the employees of the food industry. A pressing need: within ten years, 50% of farmers will be able to retire. Moreover, according to the last agricultural census of 2020, the erosion of employment continues. There were 659,000 full-time equivalent workers in agricultural businesses in 2020 compared to 751,000 ten years earlier.
The challenge is therefore to renew the generations. To attract the youngest, the FNSEA has programmed a major national campaign over one year, launched on the occasion of the Tour de France. The syndicate is counting on the 10 million spectators along the route to “get out of the clichés” and introduce the range of a hundred trades in the sector. Agricultural education is also a priority, with 216,000 students and apprentices.
7) One of the tragedies of French industry
It is one of the tragedies of French industry. The difficulty of recruitment, which has long hit the workshops and which now points to the offices. Tens of thousands of jobs are to be filled in French factories.
The case of Naval Group is a perfect illustration of this. Today, the defense shipbuilder explains that it is facing “a shortage of skilled labor in several areas”, while it takes between five and ten years to master the welding of a thick hull, and between four and five to know how to adjust the propulsion mechanisms of our ships.
The group intends to recruit between 1,200 and 1,500 employees per year for the next decade, in jobs that are often under strain. “These recruitment difficulties can penalize our activity”, we emphasize to the management, which has identified a typology of 220 trades to be preserved – welders, mechanics, boilermakers, computer specialists, pipe fitters, painters… “The lack of candidates generates strong competition for recruiting companies. The tensions on the labor pools can thus be very strong, ”points out the group.
Anne Bauer, Julien Dupont-Calbo, Dominique Chapuis, Virginie Jacoberger, Christophe Palierse, Martine Robert