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"The government is a little bit behind on finding employment for young people in deprived areas", the Secretary of State in charge of cities told Agence France Presse.
The so-called 'Espoir Banlieue' (hope for the outskirts) programme, which involves finding jobs, training or helping with company start ups for 12,000 16 to 25 year olds from deprived outer city areas has so far only helped 819 youngsters to step onto a professional ladder.
The programme started in 2008 when 35 professional staffing agencies were awarded the contracts of finding either employment or training for young job seekers. The government pays 6,000 Euro per young job seeker if the agencies can find him or her a work contract for at least 6 months or a place at a vocational training college.
The Secretary of State in charge of cities, Fadela Amara said "the project had a difficult start in 2008 because it is such a new concept. It was also not easy for the employment agencies to find jobs in the deprived areas. The economic crisis didn't help either."
According to the Secretary of State's department the unemployment rate amongst 16 to 25 year olds in deprived urban areas (Zones Urbaines Sensibles) was 36.7% in the last 3 months of 2008 compared to the national average of 19%.