FRATELI: Innovative Actions to Improve the Integration of Students in France
In countries with high rates of unemployment and underemployment, even those with advanced degrees may struggle to find work. This may be especially true for youths from lower socio-economic backgrounds, perhaps because they may have fewer social connections to the high-wage labor market. In France, researchers are examining the effect of job-related mentoring and support for students from low socio-economic backgrounds on their chances of finding employment after graduating.
In countries with high rates of unemployment and underemployment, even those with advanced degrees may struggle to find work. Qualified individuals may be unable to find work for a number of reasons, for example, if their skills sets do not match available jobs, or if job-seekers are unaware of suitable opportunities. Research suggests that job market outcomes may be particularly low among youth from lower socio-economic backgrounds, as children of lower-skilled workers are thought to start out with lower wages than their counterparts from higher socio-economic backgrounds.
One reason for this could be the importance of existing ties to the labor market in finding employment. If people are unfamiliar with the methods of job searching, or if they do not have a social network to tap into, it may be more difficult to find work. If this is the case then job-related mentoring and support that builds connections to the labor market could improve labor market outcomes for poorer students, but there is little empirical evidence on this issue.
France has a high rate of unemployment, especially among younger people. In 2011, the unemployment rate for people aged 15-24 was 29 percent. Even those with advanced degrees face difficult labor market prospects: a recent survey of French universities showed that one quarter of graduates were still looking for employment a year after graduating, and even five years after completing their degree a significant portion were still unemployed or underemployed. Less than half of college graduates had found employment that matches their qualifications.
Researchers partnered with Association Frateli to evaluate the impact of mentoring and support services on labor market outcomes for students. Association Frateli is an organization working in French universities to provide job-related mentoring and support services to help students from lower socio-economic backgrounds, enter the job market and find work that matches their qualifications.
Over two years, students in three French universities were randomly assigned to either a treatment group, which received Frateli' s program, or a comparison group, which did not. The program provided students in the treatment group with a package of three services: (1) personal mentoring, (2) collective workshops with other students in the program, and (3) opportunities to interact with other students through an online network.
Project ongoing; results forthcoming.