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Hollande to boost France’s successful civic service

media President Francois Hollande during his New Year's greeting to address the nation's youth and to people who work for the common good, Paris, France, 11 January 2016 Reuters/Patrick Kovarik/Pool

French President François Hollande announced on Monday that an extra 700 million euros will be allocated to the French civic service which will welcome 350,000 young people per year.

“Within three years, civic service should welcome 350,000 young people per year, instead of 120,000 in 2015,” said Hollande.

“That means our budget will triple from 300 million euros to 1 billion euros by 2018,” he added.

Launched five years ago, the French civic service has been particularly successful since the Paris terror attacks last November. An average of five young people have applied for every vacancy.

Click here to read more articles on Paris attacks

In 2014, only 35,000 young people won a place on a civic service scheme and more than 75 per cent of the applicants have been turned away for lack of place.

The civic service is a voluntary system opened to people aged between 16 and 25 and is seen as a successor to the compulsory military service which ended in 1996.

Young volunteers earn 573 euros per month and can work on various schemes from helping the homeless to preparing commemorations for the centenary of the First World War or working for the firemen-paramedics.

Although the civic service could be seen as a “love for the Republic” and a way to participate in the collective impetus and improve participatory democracy as wished by President Hollande, it is mainly a way out of unemployment for a lot of young people, even temporarily, as civic service contracts last 6 to 12 months.

In order to expand the successful options, some new schemes could be added by “major public companies, such as Radio France could also be called upon, along with government agencies, hospitals, retirement homes, homes for disable people and all public institutes,” said Hollande.

Offering schemes will not be an option but compulsory, Hollande said adding that quotas will be decided within ministries, administrations, regional and local authorities.

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