Life Style

“My goal is not to get rich”: the new relationship of young people to work

” Work more to earn more. » Can Nicolas Sarkozy’s slogan taken up by Valérie Pécresse, presidential candidate, still appeal to young people? According to a recent BVA survey for Macif and the Jean-Jaurès Foundation, 43% of 18-24 year olds want a “well-paid job”. A criterion cited before “an interesting activity” and “free time for private life”. “This pragmatism goes a little against received ideas about the expectations of this generation, but it is to be linked to the Covid crisis, analyzes Jérémie Peltier, director of studies at the Jean-Jaurès Foundation. Many young people have lost their small jobs or seen their CDD not renewed and found themselves in a precarious situation. »

TO ANALYSE. The health crisis has slowed the professional integration of young people

However, they would not be ready to work more, according to the specialist. “This approach no longer corresponds to their state of mind. They would rather be in a perspective of “working less to earn more”, he believes. The value of work does not have the same importance for them as for their elders. » Youth is not homogeneous and the relationship to employment depends a lot on the level of education, but work ” is not anymoreas much a constituent element of social identity for this generation”, emphasizes on its sideDanièle Linhart, sociologist, emeritus researcher at the CNRS.

A need for freedom and work-life balance

“I chose a job where you often have to invest 200%, even if it means taking up your personal time, testifies Lydie, 22, student in a master’s degree in journalism. But I’m not sure I want it. It is out of the question that work comes before my health and my passions. I write novels, even though I’m not yet published, and I play volleyball. I’m not ready to miss training to work overtime”, confides the young woman currently in a gap year.

→ READ. Educator, waiter, computer scientist: these professions that hire young people

Lydie doesn’t want a permanent contract right away, much to her mother’s astonishment: “I know she does a lot of things on the side but you have to think about the future, worries Patricia, an employee in a catering company. Me, I’ve been on a permanent contract for thirty years and I tell him that he has to work, but I can’t decide for him. »

Steve, 22, an engineering student on a work-study program in a telecommunications company, does not see the CDI as a holy grail either and does not rule out resuming studies in a few years. “I wouldn’t want to stagnate in my work and I’m not even sure that I’ll be an engineer all my life”, he confesses. For now, he hopes to find a first job ” well paid ” and “especially interesting” in a company with ” a good atmosphere “, where he can “going out with co-workers”. Also a sportsman, Steve does not plan, like Lydie, to sacrifice his leisure time to stay longer at the office.

The total investment for the good of the company is no longer really in tune with the times. “Today, young people express a need for freedom which manifests itself in a demand for more flexible hours and the search for a balance between professional and private life.observes Anne Muxel, research director at Cevipof (CNRS/Sciences Po) and author of a study on Generation Z (1). Work appears to them as a means of contributing to a full and satisfying life. It constitutes a place of sociability, of eventual pleasure, of fulfillment but also of learning”.

A quest for meaning

The example of parents, who can bring home the malaise felt at work, often serves as a foil. When Lydie sees her mother “get up every morning at 6 a.m. to take the RER”, she says to herself that she does not want “especially not to live like her”. The young woman is even ready to make concessions on the interest of the job and the salary to preserve her well-being. “My goal is not to get rich. I just want to have a roof, enough to eat and to be able to practice my hobbiesshe assures. Working more to earn more makes no sense in a society that already produces too much. »

EXPLANATION. Employment: what the 2022 presidential candidates say

The purpose of work is a priority for this generation, which questions the preservation of the planet’s resources and the living conditions of humanity. Quentin, 22, a “gifted” young man who stopped his studies after high school, dreams of following in the footsteps of Louis Witter, a photojournalist for migrants. “Today, I have a job at the factory which is purely food-related, but the day I can work as a photographer, I won’t count my hours because I’ll feel like I’m doing a really useful job. . »

This quest for meaning also pushes some to change direction and retrain, as noted by the sociologistworkDaniele Linhart. “I see many who have done interesting higher education and then decided to go work in an NGO or turn to craftsmanship. » Audrey Richard, president of the National Association of HRDs, notes an increase in resignations. “We don’t have any figures yet, but many of my colleagues have been faced with this situation, especially after the first confinement, she reports. More and more young people also disappear without giving any news after their job interview or their first day in the company. »

More resistant to authority and in demand of recognition

Demanding for their work, 18-24 year olds are also demanding with regard to the company, which they expect to be committed to “the preservation of the environment, the fight against racism, discrimination and inequalities between women and men”, according to the BVA survey. Anne Muxel also notes that they want “more horizontal authority, more recognition for their skills and confidence in their ability to take on responsibilities and show initiative. »

Nicolas, 30, an engineer at Publicis, recognizes himself quite well in this generational portrait, even if he is aware of being one of the “privileged who have had the chance to follow socially valued studies”. Invested in a job that “passionate” and in which he ” realized “, however, he says he was shaken by the Covid crisis, which called into question his vision of work. “I found myself on partial unemployment during the first confinement and I realized that the world did not stop turning. » Since then, Nicolas has said to himself that he should focus less on work to accomplish himself and do more things for him, such as sports and cooking.

→ MAINTENANCE. Anne Muxel: “The generation of 18-24 year olds is morally demanding with companies”

His father thinks he is right to want a second life, alongside his professional life. Me, I was often absent because of work “, acknowledges Philippe, an aeronautical engineer. As a manager, he is also faced with the same demands from young employees and must adapt: “If you tell them it’s not possible, they end up leaving. »

Matthieu Fleurance (2), 30 years old, graduate of a master’s degree in management, reconverted in the bakery, pushed the reflection even further. Co-founder of the Nantes collective “Work less to live better”, he questions “employment relationship” and denounces “the monopoly of market labor in our lives”. Coming from the working classes, as he makes a point of specifying it, he advocates “de-work” in order to free up time for other activities and to build, ultimatelyanother model of society.

“I know that my parents, like many other parents, don’t understand the need for change, he regrets. My mother ended up accepting my approach but does not understand it. My father neither accepts nor understands her. » Idealistic or pragmatic, the expectations of young people sometimes disconcert their elders, including the politicians, generally not very verbose, on the left as on the right, on the meaning of work.


Young people’s expectations of work

Asked about their expectations with regard to their professional life (3), young people answer, in order of priority: having a well-paid job (43%), an interesting activity (32%), free time for private life (30%).

The possibility of “being useful” comes in sixth position, cited by 21% of respondents, who were asked to give three answers each.

Similarly, 16% of respondents consider it a priority to “stand up for your values” in the workplace.


“I see my work as a commitment”

Emily, 23 years old, trainee civil servant

“I have been a trainee civil servant at the Ministry of Finance since September. I have always wanted to work in the service of the State in order to be able to contribute something to society. This is where I find meaning. I see work in a public service as a commitment, including with a sacrificial dimension, since this ministry requires almost total availability, both in terms of schedules and geographically.

This is not a negative conception, on the contrary. I find it rewarding to serve others. There are civil servants in my family who served as an example to me and that is the meaning I want to give to my life. Work is a way to grow and fulfill myself. Working for the administration allows you to see in the long term and to evolve, while enriching yourself with new knowledge. My spouse has the same job as me and shares this conception of work. When we have children, we will have to compose because I do not intend to put my private life before my professional life. »


Working time, the proposals of the presidential candidates

Yannick Jadot (EELV) : The ecologist candidate proposes to work less at chosen moments of life. He also said he was in favor of a 4-day week, but only in certain cases.

Anne Hidalgo (PS) : The socialist candidate wants to encourage companies to move towards the reduction of working time.

Jean-Luc Mélenchon (LFI): The candidate of La France insoumise proposes to deploy the 4-day week.

Fabien Roussel (PCF) : The communist candidate wants to introduce a 32-hour week, without a reduction in salary.

Philippe Poutou (NPA): The candidate of the New Anti-Capitalist Party proposes to pass to 28 hours of work per week over 4 days, without loss of salary.

Valerie Pécresse (LR) : The candidate Les Républicains wants to allow companies to get out of 35 hours and employees to convert their RTT into salary. She also wants to tax overtime.

Far-right candidatesMarine Le Pen and Éric Zemmour, have not yet made any proposals on this topic.

Emmanuel Macron (LREM) : The outgoing president is not yet a candidate for his succession. During his 2017 campaign, he had considered modulating working time according to age: more than 35 hours a week for young people and less for people close to retirement. This proposal never saw the light of day but could be part of its 2022 program.


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