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Last Updated: Tuesday, 20 March 2007, 13:38 GMT
France's lost generation
Students shout slogans during a demonstration in Bordeaux in April 2006 against the First Job Contract law, known as CPE law
Crossing Continents
Thursday, 29 March 2007
1102 BST on BBC Radio 4

As the French prepare to vote for a new president this spring, there is a sense that their country is in desperate need of change.

In a special series of programmes on France on BBC Radio 4, Crossing Continents will be tackling one of the hottest issues in the elections.

Youth unemployment is currently running at around 25%.

Riots in the suburbs and the more recent student revolt over the "easy hire, easy fire" contracts last spring has forced the issue to the top of the political agenda.

Many young people have already voted with their feet and left the country.

One of them, now working in London, says the French State has "sacrificed a generation".

In Crossing Continents Lucy Ash tracks the bewildering obstacle course French school and university leavers face when looking for employment.

From an education system dismissed as a factory churning out the unemployable, to CVs discarded in the bin for having the wrong postcode, to employers crippled by high payroll taxes, it is a game of snakes of ladders in which most of the ladders appear to be rotten and the snakes numerous indeed.

BBC Radio 4's Crossing Continents was broadcast on Thursday, 29 March at 1102 BST.

The programme was repeated on Monday, 2 April 2007 at 2030 BST.

Presenter: Lucy Ash
Producer: John Murphy
Editor: Sue Ellis

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