The Training Initiative
Reunion Island, 2012-2013
According to INSEE, sixty percent of the 15-25 year old on Reunion Island are unemployed. This is a record when compared to European countries. In some areas this percentage even reaches eighty percent. The current generation has no job prospects and no perspective on its future. Also, the island is almost saturated in population. Young people often are unwilling to leave their homes and families to get educated abroad. As a consequence, urban violence started in the Chaudron, a Saint Denis district. It now begins to spread to other Reunion Island cities, immersing it in a deep social and economic malaise.
To address this situation the RSMA-R (Adapted Military Service Regiment in Reunion Island) program is one of too few answers from the French government. It takes on twelve hundred young individuals (fifteen hundred in 2014) every year to get these out of a delicate social, educational or family environment. They candidates receive a variety of trainings: e.g. food processing, construction, public works, road transport, mechanics, restoration and security.
In the first month, the pupils are trained in military discipline, based on a rigorous routine (getting up early, respect for hierarchy and civilian code of conduct) combined with demanding physical exercises. Despite the course’s difficulty in the beginning, the young participants hold out well, only few give up. The training continues over six to twelve months, in which the trainees, supported by specialist instructors, learn a profession in the different workshops designed for this purpose.
In 2012, 72% of of the young people leaving the RSMA program find employment or further training in civilian life.