Young jobseekers in France are feeling sharp end of battered market

In September, Eugenie Fillon should begin a two-year master's degree in luxury hotel management, combining her studies with a salaried apprenticeship.

But there's a problem.

During the worst economic downturn in decades, hotels in France aren't hiring.

If the 22-year-old fails to secure a placement, she will be deprived of a starting income and also be on the hook for fees worth 18,000 euros.

France was already one of the worst places in Europe to be a young job-seeker.

That's thanks to a rigid labour market and a resulting shortage of long-term contracts.

In the current climate, things will be even worse for youngsters like Fillon:

"When I saw the coronavirus numbers and especially the borders closing," she said, "the absence of tourists, I wondered, 'What will I do? What will the hotels do? Will they need me next year or not?' This worries me all the time."

Fillon is not alone. Around 800,000 young people in France will enter the labour market this summer.

Just as the euro zone's No. 2 economy is forecast to shrink by 11 percent.

The youth unemployment rate punched above 20% in the fourth quarter of 2019 and forecasts suggest it could rise to 30 percent.

On Wednesday (June 10), the country's finance minister Bruno Le Maire said France will spend an extra billion euros on a programme to boost apprenticeships:

"In these plans to address the economic impact of COVID, we have measures that seek to support the hiring of apprentices so that we will not have hundreds of thousands of youth facing closed doors the moment they enter the job market."

Unemployment was falling before the crisis.

But was still roughly double the rate of Britain and Germany.

Macron's government will in the days ahead launch talks with trade unions and employer groups over how to create jobs for youngsters during the recession.