France. Hoist your sails for Americas Cup China Teams Our Neighbourhood has Talent event

Friday, 17 November 2006

Operation “Our Neighbourhood has Talent,” launched 17 November 2005 in Seine-Saint-Denis with an aim to employing the young and newly-qualified in the more deprived areas, will hoist its sails again this autumn. On 16 November 2006 a national operation will be launched with the same objective.

What do you know about “Our Neighbourhood has Talent?” Well, it was begun by Yazid Chir, Managing Director of Neocles Corporate (a partner of China Team), also president of MEDEF 93 West. The operation puts the young and the qualified from deprived areas in touch with companies who need their talent. The main objective is of course to create jobs. Xavier de Lesquen of China Team has been following the adventure since it started.« Our French headquarters are in Saint-Ouen, in the Neocles building so we were there for the great excitement that was created around “Our Neighbourhood has Talent” from the very beginning, and admired the energy and the enthusiasm, as well as the optimism of the young people involved in the operation. How could you not take part in such creativity? We took on three young people in June to sail on our boats in Valencia and we are going to continue this agreement. That’s sport at its most concrete. It is there to create dreams, but also to create change.

The event, which favours employment of those with a baccalaureat and four years higher education (under thirty years of age), was launched before the much publicized unrest in the suburbs last year and concerned only those who lived in the Seine-Saint-Denis area when it started out. Yazid Chir, who was born in Saint-Ouen and initiated this kind of action, has first-hand experience. His company is a model of integration. “We have to stop talking about the suburbs in such negative terms. There are plenty of young people who succeed and work hard who are from deprived areas, but we never hear about them. Our aim is, for once, to put them in the spotlight and show they exist,” he explains.

In the beginning the idea was to give 200 young people from Seine-Saint-Denis an opportunity to work and guarantee them an interview. Out of 200, 160 agreed to sign up. “Signing up meant they had to make an agreement. They had to be present on the day the operation was launched, to write up a report every two weeks explaining where they were at in their search for a job and note any interviews they had attended, as well as follow a coaching session once a month,” Chir explains.

In order to make the event work, 25 sponsors were recruited to take on 5 or 6 young people each, give them individual attention and provide them with a network of contacts. Each sponsor had the same instructions on how to proceed. As far as the companies were concerned, they had to sign an agreement saying they would grant an interview to those graduates whose training corresponded to a potential job in their sector.

160 young people had an interview and 72 were employed at the end of a six-month period, around 40% of those who actually went for an interview. If you take a look at the statistics nationwide, you can see that those with a baccalaureat and four years at university level need at least a year to find a job. And those graduates who live in Seine-Saint-Denis have five times less of a chance, (and I’m talking about those with the same qualifications), than the youth from the “respectable” neighbourhoods of being called for an interview. Thanks to this operation our 72 graduates found employment within eight months. In other words, we multiplied their chances by five.

Yazid Chir is extremely motivated. These young people have regained some hope of working and have a more positive image of company life. For example, the first person to be employed came from Central Africa and had spent a year-and-a-half on unemployment benefit. The candidate had two masters degrees, one in finance, another in legal studies and he was hired by the Banque Populaire. Since he has joined the company he has been promoted twice.

As the pilot scheme has been such as success, Laurence Parisot, president of the MEDEF, has decided to make “Our Neighbourhood has Talent” a national operation. The companies can therefore make use of it according to their needs. On 29 March 2006, Parisot signed a partnership with ANPE (the French unemployment agency) to encourage regional directors of the ANPE and the MEDEF network to work together.
A worthy initiative which deserves the best of luck!

Last Updated ( Friday, 17 November 2006 )