France told it’s not attractive enough to lure skilled foreign workers

France has been criticized for not being attractive enough to skilled workers from outside the European Union in a new study which says the French government "must do more".

France told it's not attractive enough to lure skilled foreign workers
Photo: AFP
To attract skilled workers and meet the needs of the labor market, France must “modernize and improve” its economic immigration system, said the study by the global economics organization, the OECD. 
Economic immigration of non-EU nationals remains low in France by international standards, with skilled foreign workers from outside the EU accounting for just 16 percent of immigrants in France compared to 10 percent in 2010. 
France ranks eighth behind the United States, Canada, Saudi Arabia, the United Kingdom and Spain for “attractiveness” among the most highly qualified migrants.
And the OECD doesn't spare the country's feelings when pointing out why, pointing the finger at France's notoriously complex and opaque administrative process, as well as a high cost of living, particularly when it comes to housing. 
Central African doctor Ginna Lievre works as a pediatrician in the French town of Argentan. Photo: AFP
It also highlights France's “low wages and the social climate” as reasons it might be unappealing to foreign talent.
The organisation says France “must improve” its professional immigration system because if well-managed it can have a “positive impact” on the economy both in terms of wealth creation and public finances.
The report suggests that France could tackle the issue by updating the list of professions where there is a struggle to fill the number of positions available, giving the country an idea of where foreign workers could fill the gaps.  
The OECD also says France must do more to keep its foreign students once they have graduated becasue they are “under represented in industries struggling to recruit workers”.
The report suggests expanding the systems in place for welcoming and offering guidance to foreign students in higher education establishments, in order to maximise their chances of successful integration into the labour market.
In 2011 the European Union produced a report which included operating chemical and pharmaceutical equipment, compliance inspection and the production and operation of information systems on the list of under-supplied professions.
In addition, the organisation calls on the French government to “improve the indicators available to assess the employment situation” and emphasizes the “excessively discretionary treatment of work permit applications” by regions, particularly when it comes to seasonal workers.

Looking for a job in France? These are the sectors desperately seeking workersPhoto: AFP

For members


How to get a summer job in France

As the summer holidays approach in France, many employers are looking for seasonal workers - so if you're looking for a summer job, here's how to go about it.

How to get a summer job in France

There are thousands of employment offers in France – a simple internet search for jobs d’été came up with numerous jobs boards offering work in France, while the government-backed Centre d’Information et de Documentation pour la Jeunesse (CIDJ) offers advice and information on all aspects of life for young people in France, including finding seasonal work and summer placements.

Sectors including agriculture, hospitality and tourism are always recruiting in the summer, seeking fruit-pickers, holiday camp workers and serving/hotel staff.

But what are the rules for people seeking summer jobs?

READ ALSO Vendange: What you really sign up for when you agree to help with the French wine harvest


Children from the age of 16 (under certain circumstances, the age limit drops to 14) who are legally resident in France can work as long as they have written authorisation from their parents or legal guardians. A model authorisation letter is available here

Those under the age of 18 cannot undertake certain jobs for health and safety reasons.

In the following circumstances, children as young as 14 or 15 can work during school holidays.

  • The holidays must last at least 14 days;
  • The child must work no more than half the days of the holiday – so, if a vacation period is two weeks, they can work for no more than one of those weeks;
  • The child is given ‘light duties’ that offer no risk to their safety, health, or development;
  • From the age of 15 and if the child has completed their troisieme education, a minor can register for an apprenticeship. 


Salary is usually paid monthly and will have a payslip. For those aged 18 and over, pay will be at least equal to the minimum wage.

 For those aged 14 to 17, who have less than six months’ professional experience, the minimum allowed rate is 80 percent of the minimum wage. For those aged 17 to 18, the rate rises to a minimum of 90 percent of France’s minimum wage.

  • The minimum wage in France is currently €10.85 gross per hour (€1,645.58 gross per month based on a 35-hour week);
  • the employment contract is fixed-term and can take different forms (fixed-term contract, seasonal employment contract, temporary employment contract, etc);
  • Seasonal employees are subject to the same obligations as the other employees of the company and have access to the same benefits (canteens, breaks, etc.).

Under 18s have certain additional protections:

  • between the ages of 14 and 16, during school holidays, employees on any contract cannot work more than 35 hours per week nor more than 7 hours per day;
  • They cannot work at night;
  • Those aged 14 to under 16 working during their school holidays can only be assigned to work which is not likely to harm their safety, their health or development.

Right to work in France

If you’re a French citizen or hold permanent residency in France then you have the right to work, but for foreigners there are extra restrictions.

Anyone who holds the passport of a EU/EEA country or Switzerland, is free to work in France or to travel to France seeking work without needing a visa or work permit.

Most other people will need permission to work in France – even if it’s only for a short period or for casual work such as grape-picking. Depending on your country of origin you may need a visa – everything you need to know about that is here.

In addition to the visa, you may also need a work permit, which is the responsibility of the employer.  To employ anyone in France for less than 90 days, an employer must get a temporary work permit – before the prospective employee applies for a short stay visa. This permit is then sent to the embassy at which the employee is applying for a visa.

If you come from countries including the UK, USA and Canada you can spend up to 90 days in France without a visa – but you may still need a work (convention d’accueil) if you want to work while you are here.

READ ALSO Six official websites to know if you’re planning to work in France

Certain countries have specific ‘seasonal worker’ visas on offer, for certain sectors which allows – for example – Canadians to come to France and work the ski season. 

Cash-in-hand jobs

Certain sectors which have a lot of casual workers – for example seasonal fruit-picking – do have cash-in-hand jobs, known in France as marché noir (black market) or simply travail au black (working on the black, or working illegally). 

This is of course illegal and working this way carries risks – as well as the possibility of losing your job if labour inspectors turn up you are also in a vulnerable position. If your employer suddenly decides not to pay you, or make unexpected deductions from your wages, there is very little you can do about it since you won’t have any kind of work contract.