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Thursday, 22 January 2015

Canada features at job fair for France's unemployed professionals

It goes without saying that unemployment is one of the major issues currently facing the French government.

The country's president, François Hollande, made tackling the problem one of his priorities, making endless promises during his first year in office that the upward trend would be reversed by the end of 2013.

It wasn't.

In January 2014, he admitted having failed, changed tack and maintained that his Pacte de Responsabilité (Responsibility Pact - agreed with trade unions and employers' organisations and which would give business increased tax breaks) would "put the French economy back on the rails".

The assumption being that a drop in the unemployment rate would be one of the results.

He went even further later in the year, when he started talking about not seeking re-election in 2017 if the effects of his economic policies didn't kick in and he failed to cut unemployment.

Well, the jobless rate is still on the rise.

The most recent seasonally adjusted figures for Q3 2014 released by the Institut national de la statistique et des études économiques (the French National Institute for Statistics and Economic Studies, INSEE) had risen to 10.4 per cent.

Without blinding you with an endless stream of figures and percentages (you can find plenty of reports on the stats by doing a simple Internet search) the bottom line is that France is still in deep economic doggy doo (now isn't that a profound analysis) .

Help is at hand though - at least for young professionals who are having problems finding the job to suit their qualifications or those who are looking to change their career, retrain or start their own businesses.

It comes in the form of the Salon du travail et de la mobilité professionnelle - a job fair organised by the weekly news magazine L'Express and with the official backing of the ministry of employment.

It's being held at the Grande Halle de la Villette in Paris on January 23 and 24, bringing together 150 exhibitors, workshops and consultants with those looking for jobs.

Among the advice given on how best to present yourself and your cv, and in spite of the special section for the handicapped, the whole shebang seems to be put a weird perspective by two factors.

Firstly, one of the posters promoting the fair suggests "mobility" - trying another region within France.

Fair enough. It might smack somewhat of the advice given back in the 1980s to Britain's unemployed by the former conservative employment (among other positions) minister Norman Tebbit to "get on their bikes".

Or go where the work is. But it's probably healthy to remind visitors and jobseekers that France doesn't begin and end in Paris.

Secondly there's  the "country of honour"  - Canada - and the poster declaring the low unemployment rate the other side of the Atlantic in Quebec.

(screenshot Salon du travail et de la mobilité professionnelle poster)

Does that mean the French government has in a roundabout way, (because it's supporting the fair) come up with a new strategy to reduce unemployment in France by encouraging people  to look anywhere - even abroad - for opportunities?

Any ideas François Rebsamen (the minister of employment)?

Monday, 19 January 2015

Peugeot - where sometimes an "open day" means "business as usual"

The French often come in for something of a pasting when it comes to business practices and customer service.

Unfair of course - because each country has its own peculiarities, although admittedly France seems to have more than its far share.

Still, no matter how much you might want to defend them, sometimes the French excel themselves in redefining common sense...and their own language.

Take the case of "portes ouvertes" or "open days" as interpreted by some car dealers in the country.

They've just taken place here with manufacturers eager to entice potential customers with the promise of special offers.

Those can include a 'manufacturer's official) dealer offering to take back your current vehicle at its market price (as defined by the "bible" of second-hand car value in France, the magazine and website "Argus")  and at the same time knocking off up to €5,000 on the purchase of some of models.

Others throw in free service for a year or more and monthly leasing rates without the need to put down a deposit.

In fact, there's almost a glut in the range of "special offers" available, limited to a certain period but repeated with such frequency that they've become almost par for the course.

And to give sales that extra boost, there are those "portes ouvertes" when dealers throw open their doors at times when they would normally be closed...or so you would think.

Because outside of the main metropolitan areas, it can sometimes be difficult to find car dealers who have understood that an "open day" is not the same as "business as usual".

Such was the case this past weekend in the southwestern département of Tarn.

The official Peugeot dealers in the towns of Graulhet and Gaillac (both with populations of around 12,000) proudly announced they would be holding "portes ouvertes".

Only you had to pay attention to the times, because in reality they weren't - "portes ouvertes", that is.

Peugeot 2008 (screenshot from video report by Malcolm Flynn on

The two dealers were open on Friday and Saturday - just as they always are, but closed on Sunday because, as they explained to the bemused potential buyer who turned up then and happened to find someone in the showroom not selling but simply catching up on some paperwork, "portes ouvertes had been on the previous two days."


Now let's take a quick look at the Gaillac dealer's regular opening hours.

Um...Monday-Friday from eight o'clock in the morning until half-past seven in the evening. And on Saturday from eight o'clock in the morning until seven o'clock in the evening.

And those "portes ouvertes"? Friday 16 January and Saturday 17 January (even though an Internet search tells you initially that it was in fact on Saturday 17 and Sunday 18).

Oh well.

Never mind.

There was always a 25km drive to Albi or a 50km one to Toulouse.

Or not.

Tuesday, 13 January 2015

#ouestsarkozy and #JesuisNico trend after Nicolas Sarkozy's front row appearance at Paris march

Of course it's all a matter of interpretation,

But the French media and social networks have been having a little bit of (harmless) fun at the expense of the former French president, Nicolas Sarkozy.

He was invited, in his capacity as the newly-elected leader of the opposition centre-right Union pour un mouvement populaire (Union for a popular movement, UMP) party to take part in Sunday's rally in Paris.

And, after meeting his successor at the Elysée palace, François Hollande, Sarkozy graciously accepted.

Somehow though, Sarkozy didn't seem happy to play second fiddle - so-to-speak - as he found himself a couple of rows back from the front of the march.

That highly-esteemed position was given to world leaders who had made the trip to Paris to take part in the rally: leaders such as German chancellor Angela Merkel, Mali's president, Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta, Britain's David Cameron, Spain's Mariano Rajoy and Israel's Benjamin Netanyahu

They were all snapped by the world's cameras alongside Hollande.

In total, 44 heads of state or government turned up.

And so too was Sarkozy who, on more than one occasion, managed to worm his way through to the front...where he presumably thought he so rightfully belonged...with his "fellow world leaders".

World leaders - and Nicolas Sarkozy - at the Paris march (screenshot from Europe 1 Dailymotion video)

Such "antics" soon saw Sarkozy ridiculed on the Net with Twitter a-tweet and Tumblr a-Tumblr (well you can't really say awash now, can you?) with photoshopped images of other world events (throughout history) that Sarkozy has "attended."

#JeSuisNico and #ouestsarkozy (a play on the "Where's Wally?" series of children's books which in France are known as "Où est Charlie?") were launched.

And there was Sarkozy alongside Charles de Gaulle after the liberation of Paris in 1944.

On the moon, ahead of Neil Armstrong, in 1969

Present and participating in the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989.

With the French football team as they lifted the World Cup in 1998

And...well you get the picture.

Yes Sarkozy really was an eyewitness to history down the decades.

Nicolas Sarkozy s'impose sur la photo by LeLab_E1
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