French missions locales: integrating young people into society and the labour market

At the start of the recession of the early 1980s, youth unemployment was a significant problem in France. In 1982, the recently elected Socialist government passed Order No. 82-273, creating missions locales, places where young people between the ages of 16 to 25 could seek support and advice about work, training, accommodation and other important factors in their lives. The objective was not just to reduce youth unemployment but also to help integrate young people into French society.

The challenge

In 1981, France faced high rates of unemployment, particularly among young people. A report was written by Bertrand Schwartz in September 1981, entitled “L'insertion professionnelle et sociale des jeunes” [Social and professional integration of young people], recommended that more must be done to engage 16- to 25-year-olds in the socioeconomic sphere. It was particularly important to act quickly as France, like much of Europe, suffering a recession in the first half of the 1980s.

The initiative

Under Order No. 82-273 of 26 March 1982, 61 Missions Locales (ML) were established to help young people overcome the difficulties they faced in social and professional integration. The MLs take a holistic approach, taking into consideration “work, education, guidance, mobility, housing, health, and access to culture and leisure”. They are based on a cooperation between different actors in order to meet the young people’s needs. They have three basic objectives, to:

  • Reduce the rate of unemployment among young people aged from 16 to 25.
  • Help them to integrate into society, but as autonomous individuals.
  • Experiment and innovate to build adequate solutions to youth issues.

ML advisors meet with young people and help them to choose a direction. Then, they work with the young person to determine which services they should access in order to help them to achieve their goals. The MLs call on “a network of social, educational, work, and leisure services to help young people achieve their goals - perhaps referring to a Pôle emploi [job centre] or to a training provider”.

The members of the ML Council Boards are representatives elected by the local communities. The funding is split between the national government (39 percent), the regions (19 percent), the départements [departments] (6 percent) and the local communities (23 percent).

The public impact

The ML programme has had significant socioeconomic impact over many years, In 2013, for example, the 444 MLs together supported more than 1.2 million young people, while in 2009, of the 1.25 million young people supported by a ML, 487,000 (nearly 40 percent) had access to training or a job.

The access to ML is free for all young people and is not based on selective criteria. The social impact is particularly relevant for young people with low socioeconomic status. In 2012, 92 percent of people supported by a ML were not educated beyond the baccalauréat.

What did and didn't work

All cases in our Public Impact Observatory have been evaluated for performance against the elements of our Public Impact Fundamentals.


Public Confidence Good

The gathers various kinds of actors. Public trusts the ML network to help young people to enter the labour market, find accommodation, deal with social procedures and participate as citizens.

There have been no specific surveys of public opinion about MLs, but over a million young people are enrolled in the programme and these numbers have been roughly constant for over thirty years.

Stakeholder Engagement Strong

The ML network of has the support of a number of stakeholders: the national government, the regions, the departments, and local communities, along with different local actors such as NGOs, sports clubs, and job centres.

The Ministries of Employment and of Health indicated in 2011 that the ML social partners decided to dedicate EUR30 million to the "Missions MLs, specifically to finance the support of 20,000 young people who left the education system without a degree.

Political Commitment Good

The MLs are supported by the national government and by several tiers of regional and local authorities, with the funding of the network sourced from all levels. For example, in 2015 the Paris region answered a call for a project to finance the investment in computer equipment for MLs.

There is strong political sponsorship from ministerial and agency partners, such as job centres and the Ministry of Education.

To begin with, the MLs were seen as a left-wing initiative, as they were an early policy of President Mitterand’s Socialist Party government. However, the MLs’ sponsors managed to make them seen as a politically neutral and socially beneficial initiative.


Clear Objectives Good

Their public service mission is defined in the Labour Code under Articles L5314-1 to 4. The objectives of the ML network are clear: to reduce youth unemployment and to help young people integrate into French society.

Evidence Fair

Much of the evidence for the ML policy was derived from a report by the academic, Bertrand Schwartz, “Social and professional integration of young people” (see The challenge above). This report was commissioned by Pierre Mauroy, the prime minister in the Socialist government, in 1981, shortly after his party’s electoral victory.

As time has gone on, the administrations running the MLs have revised the programme in the light of over three decades’ experience.

Feasibility Good

The legal framework for MLs was established in 1982 (see The initiative above). “Their public service mission is defined in the Labour Code (Articles L5314-1 to 4), which also provides a right to ‘accompagnement’ for 16- to 25-year-olds (Article L5131-3).”

Financially, the scheme is publicly funded by national, regional and local government (see The initiative above), with nearly 40 percent of funding from the national government. It also receives financial support from the European Union Social Fund making it financially feasible.


Management Good

Different structures such as le Conseil national des missions locales [the national council of MLs] (CNML) and the syndicate of MLs ensure the progress and publish reports about each individual ML. The organisational structure is as follows:

  • MLs are grouped by department, and each departmental grouping has an elected president.
  • MLs are also grouped into larger regional associations, and the departmental presidents report to the regional president.
  • The CNML oversees all of the MLs nationwide. It contributes to building networks, evaluating ML activities, and communicating ML achievements and goals to the general public. The present secretary general of the CNML is Vincent Delpey.

Measurement Fair

ML records data such as the number of interviews with young people, by regions, and the results in terms of employment, training, and accommodation.

Metrics are identified to ensure the progress and development of the policy in the different regions. The objectives are captured by theses metrics (such as the number and categories of young people supported, services they benefited from and the results of the support.). However, the measurement functions do not seem to be incorporated into the policy.

Alignment Strong

All the actors work together to achieve the objective of socioeconomic integration. The different levels of government work with the CNML to ensure that MLs are well funded and managed and meet their objectives.

The involvement of organisations such as job centres, sports clubs and training providers demonstrates excellent alignment with community partners.

Official websites, such as indicate the organisation of events such as the national day for MLs  or the interregional meeting for the presentation of the new ML, which gathers the different actors and helps them to keep a strong alignment in the CNML’s strategy and the actions directed by the network of MLs.