Thursday, January 29, 2015

Finding a job in Montpellier

From Vox Europ
As co-Ambassador of the Montpellier branch of InterNations, I often get messages from people wanting information about finding a job in Montpellier. They may have a French boyfriend, or have just finished their studies, or are seeking a new life in the sun.

I'm reticent about giving out this sort of information as
1) I'm not sure people want to hear the truth
2) The truth goes against the rose-tinted glasses outlook
3) I don't want to lull anyone into a false sense of security.

The truth is, and this the case for the whole of France, unemployment has reached epic proportions. Over 6 million people are  unemployed in all categories. Six million! It's a national scandal, but one we don't hear about on the news because the media only ever talk about the unemployed of category A (those with no paid activity) who number 'just' 3.5 million.

Furthermore, if you don't have a French qualification, you will have a hard (if not impossible) time finding a job, especially if you barely speak French.

So which sectors are recruiting? According to INSEE, eight million boomers will be retiring by 2020, so you'd think that this would liberate a whole lot of jobs seeing as this number represents 31% of the active population. Not all of the outgoing staff will be replaced though what with improvements in technology, business restructuring, and the rise of robots in the workplace.

The three main sectors that will be recruiting are:
1) in-home services (childcare, care of the elderly, cleaners, home maintenance) where it's expected there'll be 159,000 new jobs in the next twelve years. These are jobs paid at the minimum wage, but still require state diplomas.
2) computer engineers
3) sales, where it's expected there'll be nearly 300,000 jobs in the next few years. Friends in the business tell me that there is a high turnover of shop sales staff in the region because it's so difficult finding reliable, honest people...

According to one website, there'll also be jobs in the medical sector (mid-wives, nurses), teachers especially science profs (although good luck with getting a CAPES), and specialists in the building industry (bricklayers, roofers, tilers). Hotels continue to search for (qualified) cooks, waiters, and managers, while import-export companies require drivers, warehouse/logistics people.

Unemployment levels for Languedoc-Roussillon 2012, from Midi Libre
It's very positive to read about job possibilities in the future, but what of the here and now in Montpellier? Unemployment here has been steadily rising over the past few years and currently stands at 14%. The region of Languedoc Roussillon is number two for poverty and unemployment, just behind Reunion Island, which results in some mixed impressions of Montpellier by expat workers.

The economic crisis has led to more French people holidaying in France and, whereas the well-off go to the Cote d'Azur, the working classes come to Montpellier (Palavas, Carnon, etc) which means there is at least seasonal work here.

Some people manage to find jobs teaching English, some have technological skills they can use anywhere, others try to start a business in these tricky economic times. It's particularly difficult to start a business in Montpellier (so I've heard) because the business world here is very incestuous and you have to know the right people in order to get on.

So my response to those who ask for advice is to tell them that it's difficult to find a job in Montpellier, that unemployment is high, and there are lots of foreigners just like them looking for work. If they don't have a French qualification and can't speak much French, they'll have to look for low-paid work at best unless they have some personal contacts.

Easily the best way to get a job here is by word-of-mouth. How did I hear about my job? From a friend. How did two of my friends hear about (and get) a job? From me.

There are many websites devoted to starting a business in France if you really want to do that, e.g.:

Plus is a great resource for the Anglophone community in France where there are many entrepreneurs who have lots of experience, and are willing to help answer questions.


  1. I'd add that there is a lack of English teachers in the school system - last year a group of parents from one school actually advertised for "someone who speaks English" because the Rectorat hadn't provided a replacement teacher for something like 6 months... I umm-ed and ahh-ed about the CAPES for a long time, and decided against it. Self-employment has its ups and downs, but it's on my terms.

    1. If they weren't so strict about the CAPES, there would be many more applicants for English teaching jobs. For collège students, having a TEFL diploma is frankly enough and there are lots of those around!

  2. Interesting that the taux is so much lower in the rural areas of Aveyron. What do all those country bumpkins do for a living?

    1. Well to start with, the population is a lot lower and you don't get the hoards turning up looking for the good life by the sea. :)

  3. Starting in March, I'm going back to school (university) to become an elementary school teacher. Apparently, my first degree has given me loads of headaches and little prospect of ever using that wealth of knowledge in the real world. But hey, when life gives you lemons, you make lemonade, right?

    I agree, childcare is an up and coming business. More and more parents (mom and dad) are having to work just to make ends meet.

    1. Good luck with the studies! It's not easy as an adult and parent going back to studying. What was your first degree in?

  4. I think that you summed it up really well. France is nice for some holidays, but a lot less nice if you want to work there...

    1. Exactly, and Montpellier especially so because unemployment is already so high.


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