France 2030 recovery plan: where are the jobs?

This is the implicit promise of the recovery and investment plans announced in the wake of the Covid: reindustrialize, strengthen economic sovereignty, recreate jobs. “ If we do not take this turn of innovation and industrialization, we will continue to worsen our external deficits, because we will continue to depend and import, and we will continue to create too few jobs, too few opportunities for our young people and therefore repair them through public spending “, defended Emmanuel Macron during the presentation of the France 2030 plan on October 12.

Industry as a source of prosperity for the country is the dream of all presidential candidates. At the heart of this mythology: the France of the “thirty glorious years”, its full employment, its growth and its factories. And especially its middle class, built on industry whose wages are traditionally higher than in services, and jobs better protected.

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The difficulty is that the industry has changed. Not only have a large part of the least skilled jobs been relocated to low-wage countries, but robotization is spreading with new technologies, and it is hitting wide. “Manufacturing activities are less rich in jobs than twenty or thirty years ago, notes Vincent Vicard, deputy director of the Center for prospective studies and international information, attached to Matignon. The chains are more and more automated. “

Industrial demography has changed: the era of factories with 30,000 workers, like that of Renault in Boulogne-Billancourt in the 1960s, is over. “Today, a factory that opens has an average of 50 people, confirms François Bost, professor of economic and industrial geography at the University of Reims. Local elected officials are often disappointed when they find out, and may tend to prefer to accommodate an Amazon warehouse that employs 2,000 people, which wipes out poverty and poor employment. “

France is not a case apart. In a 2019 study, analysts at Oxford Economics estimated that by 2030, nearly 20 million industrial jobs could be lost globally due to robotization alone, including 2 million in Europe, five times more than in the last twenty years. For most experts, the objective of the public authorities with France 2030 is therefore not job creation, but a higher contribution of industry to the country’s wealth – at 11% of gross domestic product in France. , it is two times lower than in Germany. The Elysée has also refrained from attaching an objective of job creation to the announcement of the plan.

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