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Pôle Emploi to the rescue of the nautical sector, in crisis with 500 vacant jobs in Charente-Maritime

A truck, converted into a mobile agency and two small airlocks as offices: here is the new device being tested by the La Rochelle Pôle Emploi branch, with the specific objective of establishing a direct link between the unemployed – there are 5,500 long-term job seekers across the department – and boating companies, a sector in the midst of a recruitment crisis.

Parked in front of the Bali Catamarans factory, of the CATANA group, manufacturer of boats in Marans (Charente-Maritime), the blue vehicle is waiting for visitors this Wednesday, April 13. On site, counselors welcome six long-term job seekers. The group has an appointment with the factory manager in person for a visit to the various workshops. The opportunity to discover concretely the ten trades that are exercised under these hangars, far from the classic job interview.

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500 vacancies

Sales on the rise but a big lack of arms. This is the situation facing boating companies in Charente-Maritime. In the La Rochelle – Rochefort sectors alone, 500 full-time vacancies, compared to 200 two years ago. Jobs that concern 90% the construction of hulls, and for the rest, the carpentry of the interior fittings of boats: plumbing, electricity, coating…

“Today all the people specializing in boating are employed: that’s why we try to train new people, without qualifications. The only prerequisites are to be 18 years old, and the know-how”explains Sébastien Rafaneau, director of the La Rochelle-Villeneuve agency.

A crisis to which Bali Catamarans cannot escape. Victim of its success with a full order book until 2024, the company is however unable to fill its production lines. “We have to double our production within two years, which is very complicated since our absenteeism rate has gone from 4% to 8% since the Covid”, explains Jean-Marie Lomenech, plant manager. 80 positions are to be filled by spring 2023, including 20 urgently, by the end of May 2021.

Workshop after workshop, job seekers discover the company’s different professions and the formation of a yacht. © Radio France
© Romane Brisard

Training and monitoring

After the visit, return to the car park. Time for a review between the factory manager, the six unemployed workers and the Pôle Emploi agents. “We have training that starts throughout the year, a lot of tutoring in companies… The employees who will be integrated are truly supported at 100%”, insists Sébastien Rafaneau.

Arguments that reassure, and a visit that allows you to get out of certain clichés, according to Jean-François. After a career in finance and management, this 42-year-old father ceased his activity in the midst of a health crisis. If he has never projected himself in a manual position such as those offered by Bali Catamarans, that could change.

“I saw it much more confined, less airy. Here the premises are magnificent and the working conditions very good. It changes the idea that one can have of a box that does a lot of production”.

In order to improve the working conditions of its employees, the Bali Catamarans company modified its production lines two years ago.  Now, most employees working in boats do so with the hull open, for example.
In order to improve the working conditions of its employees, the Bali Catamarans company modified its production lines two years ago. Now, most employees working in boats do so with the hull open, for example. © Radio France
© Romane Brisard

A rich experience according to all the candidates present that day. But for now, the results in terms of recruitment remain modest. : since March and the launch of its boating factory visits, only 3 jobs have found takers in the region.

To participate in these visits or apply in the nautical sector in Charente-Maritime, several solutions: go directly to the agency, or send a request to your Pôle Emploi adviser via your personal space.

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