The unattractiveness of public employment is confirmed In France. Faced with this shortage of civil servants, the State has committed, through the Civil Service Transformation Law (LTFP) of 2019, to expanding the list of jobs likely to be occupied by contract workers. More flexible and able to respond to specific needs, agents contractual can, however, be considered as a threat to the employment of established civil servants. After a first report review published in 2020, the poor management of these contract workers is once again singled out by the Court of Auditors, in a progress report from the LTFP, published this Wednesday, November 8.
The rise of contract workers in the public service
THE latest report of the General Directorate of Administration and the Civil Service is clear: contractualization has exploded in recent years. Between 2016 and 2020, the number of contract agents in the public sector increased by almost 24%: while there were 970,000 in 2016, there are 1.2 million four years later. It must be said that the LTFP has introduced several measures aimed at facilitating the recruitment of contract workers in the public service, in particular by allowing recourse to the CDI from the first recruitment.
Project contracts, which make it possible to recruit agents on fixed-term contracts for specific operations, have also been created with the aim of meeting specific needs and alleviating the shortage of incumbents. However, the Court of Auditors notes that this system has not been fully exploited, with only 1,900 project contracts signed since the start. “The use of contract agents is not the panacea for the low attractiveness of public employment“, therefore underlines the Court. Indeed, contractualization does not seem to be the miracle solution for revitalizing a sector which is struggling to recruit.
Contract recruitment processes that take too long
In its progress report, the Court of Auditors also denounces more general shortcomings in the management of contract recruitment, with procedures that are often long and complex. Administrations must in fact respect very specific rules, in particular because recruitment must be fully validated by the budgetary controller and ministerial accountant. This procedural nature delays the recruitment of certain contract workers who, in a very tight job market, end up turning to players in the private sector.
This is also a second element of response provided by the Court of Auditors and which could make it possible to resolve the problems of attractiveness of the public sector: there is a clear gap between the remuneration offered by the State and the real situation of the the job market. Clearly, the private sector offers better salaries than the public sector. And within the civil service itself, contract workers are often paid less than civil servants, which constitutes another obstacle to the recruitment of agents via a contract. By relying on greater recognition of their experience, it would be desirable, according to the rue Cambon institution, to facilitate access for contract workers to internal competitions, thus increasing their career and remuneration prospects. The report mentions in particular “opening up to CDD or CDI holders to reserved competitions”. These more adapted management initiatives would make it possible to better train contract workers and therefore better respond to the current needs of the public sector, while allowing these agents to be better paid.
Private sector salaries have risen twice as fast as those in the public sector in ten years
A competition which can be unfavorable to tenured civil servants
But the idea that tenured staff are better paid than contract workers is not always true: the Court of Auditors reveals that within National Education, the cohabitation between tenured staff and contract workers “sometimes leads to friction”, in particular because of the salary conditions upon hiring. Thus, within several academies, such as Paris, Créteil or Versailles, the starting remuneration of incumbents is lower than that of contract workers. In the end, primary school contract workers start with a basic remuneration of 2,021 euros gross per month on average, while a teacher with a bac+5 degree and recruited through a competitive examination starts at 1,828 euros gross during their internship year. . It only exceeds 2,300 euros gross monthly after eight years of practice.
And this competition does not only take place in terms of remuneration: the asymmetries of professional mobility between permanent civil servants and contract workers also raise questions. Contract agents can, for example, be retained in vacant positions, that is to say positions which could be occupied by incumbents. The Court of Auditors then denounces a move away from the primary function of the contract worker, which tends, in fact, to be closer to that of the civil servant.
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