“Everything was furnished, I just had to put my suitcases down,” explains Laurène, 21, smiling, pushing the door of her simple but pretty studio in Lamontjoie, a village of 600 inhabitants in the Lot- et-Garonne. She moved there a year ago to follow an apprenticeship in carpentry in the Euseda company in Saint-Mézard, a town located just 6 km from the village. It was his employer who referred him to the “Apprentoit” device, which allows young people aged 16 to 28 to be housed in rural areas near their place of work, for a maximum rent of 100 euros. Since 2013, when the system was launched by the lessor Ciliopée (which merged with Domofrance in 2020) and spotted by the French federation of things that work (see box), approximately 500 to 600 young people were able to benefit from these 31 local housing units.
“My parents live in Villeneuve-sur-Lot, 50 kilometers away, and it sometimes takes an hour to drive to Saint-Mézard, explains Laurène. It would also have made me an impossible cost in gasoline so I was lucky to find this accommodation, it was really welcome. A real boost for the retraining of this young woman who is following in the footsteps of her father, a carpenter and cabinetmaker, after having tried her hand at law.
She pays 116 euros including charges (because she had a gap year after her studies during which she worked a little) for this small apartment. “In retrospect, I think it would have been very complicated without this accommodation,” she says. I have an apprentice’s salary even if I am paid a little more as I am of legal age. I earn on average 900 euros per month and with rent between 300 to 500 euros per month, there is not much left for everything else. »
Emma, an apprentice hairdresser, lives in another studio on the ground floor of the small stone dwelling in the bastide town of Lamontjoie. The two young women live in the former garage of the postmaster. “There is no longer a receiver or post office,” comments Pascal Boutan, the mayor of Lamontjoie. The small building was very dilapidated and we sold it for a symbolic euro to the lessor Ciliopée, who became the owner. For us, it was an opportunity to rehabilitate this end of the street, which has its charm. Since 2015, the village has welcomed apprentices in engineering, catering, hairdressing and seasonal workers too.
These young people, sometimes minors, need help for their first steps outside the family cocoon. Emmanuelle Salleres, project manager for the Apprentoit system and employee of the young workers’ home integrated into the Chamber of Trades of Lot-et-Garonne, follows very closely about fifteen young people. Others, like Laurène, are more independent. In conjunction with local missions, municipal social action centers (CCAS), town halls and employers, it identifies “young people who would find a job in the department and who would lack accommodation to sign an employment contract. »
Life in small towns
Behind this device, we find the conviction of Muriel Boulmier, founder of Ciliopée: “Learning by default does not prosper. Lot-et-Garonne is a land of crafts and learning and it was necessary to create housing in the city center heritage. For this to work, you also need very affordable rents. “I negotiated with the ministry the fact that there could be a merger of the two dwellings [le domicile familial et le logement du jeune pour ses études] for the opening of the right and the APL [aide pour le logement] is paid with regard to the two places of residence, she explains. I went to find the Chamber of Trades to manage Apprentoit within the framework of an agreement, asking them that the young people should not have more than 100 euros per month. »
It is the future investment program (PIA) supported by the European Union, which makes it possible to finance this system. It is a great success with artisan employers who would like it to be developed. But also with apprentices.
Apprentices who stay after their training
“He said to me: ‘Here sir, the mayor, I am happy!’ recalls Pascal Boutan, recalling the passage of a young apprentice in a car mechanics garage. He had taken his license at the local football club and met friends so he wanted to stay in the village after his apprenticeship. It was possible for him to move into a small studio with his girlfriend, before moving to Agen where he had found work. “Young people need this stability to get off to a good start in life,” says the local elected official, who reports that there have never been any problems with the various young people welcomed within the framework of Apprentoit.
Laurène is considering a tour of France with the Compagnons du Devoir, at the end of her apprenticeship, but if this does not happen, she sees herself staying in the area. “I also find it good to be in a small village, it’s quiet and we’re not isolated, there’s everything you need [médecin, pharmacie, épicerie] and I like it. »