LA TRIBUNE – You take the helm of Medef Occitanie in a turbulent economic context which places certain companies in a bad situation… What are your points of concern?
Samuel HERVÉ, president of Medef Occitanie – We are in fact in a sort of general slump: the rise in interest rates reduces the investment capacity of companies, inflation pushes galloping cost costs that are often difficult to pass on to prices, which impacts margins. companies. And we must absorb the jolts of the energy crisis, because tariff shields are not everything. We therefore find ourselves facing opposing forces of unprecedented proportions and with a brutality that we have not experienced for a long time. Added to all this are the effects of the necessary decarbonization, of the forced transformation of companies, even if we are all aware of the societal and environmental issues… Furthermore, companies have real recruitment difficulties and but also problems with retaining their employees, which makes the market more “liquid”. Let us hope that the Unedic reform will allow work to be more remunerative than non-work, thus giving some impetus to the job market.
Some sectors are more fragile than others, such as real estate and construction, and the economic model of companies is quite shaken by the various transitions underway (digital, ecological, energy). What observation do you make in Occitania?
I am very worried about the real estate sector. The act of building is in danger because of all the elements mentioned, but also because of the removal of tax incentives for new construction which is scaring away investors. We are therefore producing less housing, which creates tension on the market and a whole section of activity is at a standstill. Many developers and construction companies have questions about maintaining their workforce. And the third element is that locally, building permits have become rarer while environmental requirements have increased and land is still too expensive. The equation no longer works and that’s worrying! In the building industry, all structural and secondary work trades will see their order books dry up. And when the activity picks up again, they will have lost internal skills… As for catering, today, it’s complicated for young and old alike!
On employment precisely, in the new version of the immigration bill, revised by the Senate, undocumented workers working in professions in shortage, such as in construction or catering, will be able to obtain a residence permit of one year “exceptionally”. Medef has been quite discreet on the subject… How do you position yourself?
Medef was not against… What we are mainly looking for is operational workforce that we can qualify and keep over the long term. We cannot rule out the fact that a part of the French population no longer aspires to occupy certain positions in difficult professions and that today, immigration allows these sectors to continue. We have unmet needs and we must make the labor market more fluid, which also means addressing the issues of housing for seasonal workers, mobility and training.
The bill for full employment, which has just been voted on, notably enacts the reform of Pôle Emploi which becomes France Travail, at the latest by January 1, 2025, aiming to better coordinate the actors of the public service of the ‘job…
The real subject of France Travail will be that of governance. The State and the Region want to make their place, but the employee and employer union organizations are closest to the training subjects so we will have to be heard.
In this context, what are your priorities?
The regional Medef is a federation of territorial Medefs. It is, in a way, a distribution belt between companies and public authorities to carry the voice of the territories and to convey messages on the measures that we consider to be priorities… I have the ambition to bring companies in Brussels to help them better understand how Europe works and allow them to no longer endure it, to better understand the mechanics of lobbying. Another important subject: the standard. Sometimes, companies are innovative but they are subject to European standards… Finally, it is important to talk about financing issues, on a European scale or in France, because access to financing remains complex. The challenge is to do on financing what we have already done on the human resources side, that is to say experts within Medef Occitanie who can support companies in the jungle of HR and tomorrow of financing.
We hear a lot that schools and businesses need to work more together. For the first time, a Minister of National Education, Gabriel Attal, spoke at the monthly Medef meeting on November 14. Quite a symbol… What are your ambitions on the subject on the scale of Occitania?
I am the son of a public school teacher, so I really liked what the minister said on November 14. He notably mentioned the PISA system (international program for monitoring student achievement, Editor’s note) which shows that the level of students is falling, the decision to train middle and high school teachers outside of class hours to avoid their absence, or even the system which will allow teachers to offer reinforced lessons fifteen days before the start of the school year for students in difficulty… All this has given me renewed confidence in the government’s ambition to restore the nobility of National Education… But Gabriel Attal also says “I need you to welcome young people on internships, particularly young people from priority neighborhoods. It’s up to you to arouse young people’s appetite for your professions“.
From November 27 to December 1, it will be “School-business week”. Medef Hérault Montpellier is carrying out the “A year at school” project which aims to install, on an experimental basis, in a Montpellier high school a team of business leaders who could intervene and participate in school life events. What do you think ?
We must encourage an opening of National Education towards businesses and that each person does not remain in the caricature, that we learn to know each other. This “One year at school” operation aims to build an intervention course for some business leaders at the Lycée Champollion in Montpellier. It will be a real program of discovery and acculturation by a business manager among high school students. We are entering a stronghold!
Who will make up your close guard at Medef Occitanie?
I cannot say it before the general meeting on December 14, but I have already prefigured a composition which will be proposed for validation…