STORY. “SMEs will be stripped of their talents”

In the shadow of heavyweight Toyota, the fate of local SMEs is not always so favorable. “Between 1,000 and 2,000 jobs do not find takers, estimates the president of the CCI of Greater Hainaut; it is a lot for a basin of 300,000 inhabitants.” Example with SC Industries, a group of three small metallurgical companies employing a total of fifty people. “Our maintenance site activity is growing, but we are encountering difficulties in finding mechanics and electro-mechanics, explains Fabrice Lefebvre, president of the company; there is a labor shortage in this sector.” Involved in the local bodies of the UIMM (Union of Metallurgical and Mining Industries), the leader echoes the negative experience of colleagues in his branch.

“Recruiting boilermakers, welders or turner-millers is a disaster, he says. However, we are less and less demanding: we are no longer looking for skills but behavior. Unfortunately, finding simply motivated people who are ready to get up early, show up on time, get involved, is just as complicated! At the risk of darkening the picture, I do not see how we can reindustrialise France, set up new factories under these conditions. What is likely to happen is that SMEs will be stripped of their talents.”

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At its lowest level, it validates the diagnosis of its Toyota counterpart on the motivations of young people. “They are looking for a comfort of life, they want to leave a little time for leisure, he believes; the working conditions part takes precedence over the remuneration, which can however evolve favorably with the career in our sector of activity.”

In the personal assistance services sector, the situation is the same. The needs are very great but the candidates very rare. Marjorie Lefebvre employs 200 people within the Canopée group, based in Valenciennes. “We have employees who are leaving us, she regrets. Either because they are retiring, or because they have health problems – our sector has a higher rate of accidents at work than in the construction industry – or because they join structures such as clinics or nursing homes which offer better compensation.

Added to this is a rampant evil in French society: the situation of single-parent families. “We employ a lot of women who are exhausted for little recognition in return, notes the business manager. Most opt ​​for part-time, with the aim of maintaining a salary level that gives them access to the back-to-school allowance, APL, help in the canteen or daycare. And I understand them: their rest to live is greater by working less.”

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To compensate for resignations and widespread part-time work, Canopée is recruiting. But the company is having the greatest difficulty in finding candidates. “We do recruitment campaigns, explains Marjorie Lefebvre. Recently, 20 people were sent to us by Pôle Emploi and the local employment missions. They had to begin an integration phase. But none moved. However, we pay above the collective agreement and we offer training. I have been doing this job for fifteen years, it had never happened to me.

The consequences are dramatic for the customers as well as for the company. “We are led to refuse up to 100% of new care for people who need care, she continues; and at the same time, we lose turnover.” In the Hauts-de-France department alone, where people become dependent earlier than elsewhere for reasons of hygiene and living conditions, 10,000 auxiliary life positions are to be filled. One solution would be to increase the salaries of Canopée employees. But who would pay the rest? The user or national solidarity? Eternal Franco-French debate when the question of social benefits is broached.

How to remedy the shortage? To this haunting question, some in Valenciennes try to answer with original methods. The social housing company Sigh (Société immobilière du Grand Hainaut) offers its tenants assistance in their job search. The Synergie temporary agency (350 agencies in France) organizes a bus tour in shopping center car parks. Two counselors attract people doing their shopping there to present the available jobs.

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Further south, in Creusot (71), the Burgundian company Tunstall, which specializes in remote assistance, is encountering almost the same difficulties as Canopée in Valenciennes. Its services and connected objects allow elderly or sick people to stay at home for as long as possible. Created in 1988, the company employs 250 people divided between the head office and several regional agencies. Growing, it achieves a turnover of 25 million euros. But she also has great difficulty in hiring. “At the end of August, I was looking to recruit 14 installation advisors in Ile-de-France to install equipment in the elderly, explains Alain Monteux, CEO of the company. I went through Pôle emploi and social networks, and only 34 people answered me. 20 showed up for the interview, of which 11 were suitable, and to whom I offered a contract of employment. On the first day, at the start, there were only four of them…”

To circumvent this difficulty, Tunstall turns to slightly less qualified profiles. But new hires tend to quit quickly. “Attracting new people and keeping them is a real challenge, admits Alain Monteux, we have to work on our attractiveness. I have only two solutions: either I complain or I change our paradigms. There is a problem of remuneration, but not only. Like others, he insists on the need to give meaning to the missions of his employees and on the company’s inclusive policy. “It’s quite easy, because our job is to save lives every day,” he insists. It also plans to adapt its working hours to the needs of its employees. Which, by the way, will force its managers to lead differently.

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Another track: the internal training that he will develop to strengthen the skills of his new employees throughout their career. And teleworking has naturally imposed itself. “Without that, it’s not even worth trying to recruit a computer scientist,” he says. If he comes to the office once a week, that’s good enough. However, not everyone always has the right conditions to work from home. It is up to the department heads to put in place more flexible rules and have them accepted by their teams.

Remote work has gained ground but it sometimes complicates the life of entrepreneurs. To understand it, head south. Roland Sicard runs two very different companies: a cancer center that employs 700 people in Avignon and Thess Corporate, a start-up with 25 employees that develops medical remote monitoring devices in Montpellier. None are spared from recruitment difficulties. The hospital lacks about twenty nurses and ten doctors. In the SME, he is looking for four developer engineers. In both companies, these positions are essential to cope with the growth of the activity but prove to be very difficult to fill.

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“To cope with the decline in the working hours of doctors, it would have been necessary to train twice as many every year for twenty years, considers the company manager; as for the profession of IT developer, it has been cruelly in deficit for a very long time.” He points to a structural problem of health establishments: work overload. “The pressure is transferred to the people who assist the doctors and who find themselves in a stressful situation, regrets Roland Sicard. The nurses decide to move on or go work somewhere else.”

A problem amplified, according to him, by the emergence of telework. “A nurse whose husband telecommutes and has free time thinks that she has chosen a disadvantaged profession. We are starting to see caregivers who abandon their profession because they cannot access the advantages and comfort of teleworking. Playing on the remuneration parameter is no longer enough. Even at Thess. “In jobs in tension, the salary is important, but the number of days of telework per week and the living environment in the office are just as important.”

The high-tech sector is therefore not spared from shortages. Artifeel, a company based in Lyon and Paris, which develops, thanks to artificial intelligence, systems which avoid false triggering of anti-intrusion alarms, is recruiting highly specialized engineers who have between three and five years of experience. . In eighteen months, the workforce has increased from 2 to 15 people. To respect the company’s roadmap, around fifteen recruitments are scheduled by the end of 2023. But the process is taking longer than expected.

“In this market, there are not many talents, and even fewer women, regrets Alain Staron, one of the two co-founders of the start-up. However, we are flexible: we offer candidates to work in Paris or Lyon. And they also have access to telecommuting.” The French training system is trying to adapt to these needs, but not fast enough, in his view. In the meantime, Artifeel employs freelancers. This is not enough: the project is falling behind schedule. “It makes us waste time and money,” worries Alain Staron.

By profession, the top 10 of the greatest shortages

  • 125,000 to 150,000 servers in restoration
  • 75,000 to 100,000 kitchen staff
  • 50,000 to 75,000 technical-commercial
  • 50,000 to 75,000 versatile restaurant workers
  • 25,000 to 50,000 production equipment operators

Recruitment forecasts over 12 months and resource deficit, data as of July 2022. Reading: for the accounting profession, for example, between 25,000 and 50,000 resources are lacking on the job market in France with regard to recruitment needs planned for the next 12 months.

The decisive criteria for employees to change jobs

  • Attractive salary and benefits : 64%
  • Pleasant working atmosphere : 61%
  • Work-life balance : 57%
  • Career opportunities : 51%
  • Employment Security : 49%

Source: Randstat

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STORY. “SMEs will be stripped of their talents”


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