In a desperate bid to fight off far-right competitors, Paris wants to introduce an Australian-styled system by next summer. French Labour minister Muriel Penicaud has announced that only industries facing employment shortages will be allowed quotas to ensure qualified professionals come to the country for work. She said: “The idea is to have quantified targets, or quotas. This is about France hiring based on its needs. It’s a new approach, close to that of Canada and Australia.
“We will bring in the people we need, depending on their profession and their qualifications.”
A list of sectors in which firms will be able to recruit migrant workers will be updated annually after a series of assessments, covering both unskilled and skilled labour markets.
Mr Macron has suggested dish-washing could be one of many occupations that French workers no longer want to perform, making access to migrant workers essential.
The migrant workforce would be around 33,000 a year, according to Ms Penicaud.
Bosses would no longer have to prove their post could not be filled by a citizen or legal resident if the quota applies to their industry.
Currently employers must justify why a French citizen cannot be hired in a lengthy process.
Unemployment remains at 8.5 percent, which is the lowest in a decade, but there are shortages of people willing to work in low-paid and unskilled trades, such as construction, hotels and restaurants.
Mrs Penicaud said nationality would not be considered and “professional” migrants would have a “visa for a fixed period and fore a given job” under the new system.
Other draconian measures are due to be unveiled by prime minister Edouard Philippe, including suspending healthcare for asylum seekers and illegal immigrants for their first three months in the country.
Paris wants to eradicate so-called “health tourism”, particularly from Albanians and Georgians, who are allowed visa-free entry to the EU’s Schengen travel zone.
“Lots come to get healthcare. They know it’s free,” a ministerial source told French newspaper Le Monde.
Mr Macron has recently been encouraging his liberal colleagues to not shy away from confronting migration issues.
A September poll found 61 percent of French people believe their government’s immigration policies have been too relaxed.
France received a record 122,743 asylum applications in 2018, which is up 22 percent from the previous year, many other EU member states saw a decline in requests.
Mr Macron’s rivals have welcomed the new hardline approach to migration.
Aurelien Pradie, of The Republicans, said: ‘It’s an idea we have defended for many years so I won’t say it’s a bad idea.”
Left-wing Olivier Faure, head of the Socialist Party, branded the plan as “politically cynical, scandalous on a humanitarian level and reckless in terms of public health”.