As part of the “France Relance” plan to 100 billion euros announced in early September, the government intends to support international volunteering in companies. What does this device consist of? What are the conditions to benefit from it? And what are the advantages for the companies concerned? Answers in CQFD.

As of March 2020, 10,488 VIEs were stationed in 121 countries around the world.

Compulsory military service was abolished in 1997 by Jacques Chirac, then President of the Republic. Since then, the authorities have sought to define a framework to maintain, in civilian form, the National Service in business. Thus was born in 2000 the Volontariat International en entreprise (VIE), which allows young people to go on mission in a French society outside our borders.

To date, more than 86,000 young people have taken advantage of this system, on behalf of nearly 8,000 businesses. The opportunity for them to reconcile their first professional experience abroad, an often attractive salary and reassuring social protection.

1. What does VIE consist of?

International Corporate Volunteering is not an internship but a job – it is not about volunteering. The volunteer carries out a professional mission in a French company abroad, which can last from six to 24 months and is renewable only once within the limit of two years. Currently, its average duration is 18 months.

To be eligible, it is necessary in particular: to be of French or European nationality, to be between 18 and 28 years old, to have a clean criminal record and not to have already been voluntary. Obtaining a diploma – including the baccalaureate – is not a criterion. According to Christophe Monnier, director of VIE at Business France, the organization which manages the relationship between volunteers and companies, “young people from short circuits, in professional training, will be our priority within the framework of the recovery plan”.

2. Which sectors are recruiting?

Some sectors are particularly fond of international volunteers. In descending order (by number of volunteers): finance and insurance, information and telecommunications technologies, services, the automotive industry and health. Skills in the human sciences (law, literature, languages, etc.) are less in demand because they face competition from local staff.

The employer can also be an administration: embassy, ​​chamber of commerce, cultural center… In this case, we speak of VIA (Volontariat international en administration). All offers are public and centralized on the Civiweb platform.

3. What are the benefits for the volunteer?

VIEs are often entrusted with responsible missions, allowing them to really prove their worth. Their remuneration includes a monthly allowance of 723.99 euros, exempt from income tax, and an additional allowance, which varies according to the country of assignment and which is also exempt from income tax. Volunteers temporarily leave the Social Security system, but benefit from social coverage in their country of assignment, and remain under the aegis of the local French Embassy.

According to a Business France survey, the employment rate of young people at the end of their mission is over 90%. Almost all on permanent contracts.

4. And for the company?

To encourage companies to take up this program, Business France highlights the fact that the organization directly manages the administrative and legal management of VIE: recruitment, remuneration, social protection … This formula exempts the company from everything direct contractual link with his volunteer.

It is no longer compulsory for the company to have premises abroad. SMEs and mid-caps, which are the government’s priority in the context of the recovery plan, can accommodate their volunteers in other structures, such as with their importer or distributor, in a chamber of commerce, and even in the premises of Business France.

5. What state support for this system?

The health crisis due to the coronavirus is causing postings abroad to slow down. They continue in Europe, and are carried out in derogatory form outside this zone with the approval of the Crisis and Support Center of the Quai d’Orsay. The “export” component of the recovery plan will be endowed with 247 million euros. For the VIE, the State will pay 5,000 euros for sending a young person under VIE status in an SME or an ETI, within the limit of two VIE per company, regardless of its size or country of implantation. The objective is to regain a foothold internationally.

“For companies, at the moment, it is more convenient to have someone permanently on site, rather than relying on very random business trips with the conditions of transport and quarantine on arrival”, explains Christophe Monnier. At least 3,000 VIEs should be funded in 2021 and 2022 – knowing that this boost represents between 15% and 20% of the costs of the mission.