I'm giving English lessons to a colleague at lunchtime a couple of times a week, which gives me a nice bit of pocket money. It's still not my favourite thing in the world & I will probably never feel like a good teacher, but I think I am helping him practice and gain confidence at least, which is good. It helps that he has real, practical goals - some work stuff and an upcoming trip to the US - so definitely more motivated than your average teenager. Seems to have an inordinate love of prepositions though! Boooring!
On the job front, our dossier to secure EU funding got sent back for revisions, so instead of hearing back in February, it now will be (read, may be) decided in April. Hmmm, April you say, ring any bells? That would be the month my contract expires. So I'm still in the situation of having no more than encouraging murmurs to go on as to whether or not I'll have a job six weeks from now. Well, my boss did say they would renew the contract for a shorter period of time even if the funding doesn't come through, but you know, getting a stay of execution for a few months is not really all that helpful. I have been passively looking for jobs via a few RSS feeds, but nothing has jumped out at me. Plus the more I think about that, the more I realise that I really don't want to leave Tours for the foreseeable future. I like where I live, I like my flatmate, I've made friends. I don't want to pick up and start again somewhere else. But the likelihood of getting another job in my field in Tours has got to be vanishingly small. So then if my contract doesn't get renewed the question would be, do I get a job working in a shop or a bar or trying to give English lessons or who knows what, just to stay in Tours? Or do I accept that I'll have to go elsewhere - realistically, probably to the UK, although who knows how easy it is there to find a job these days with all the public sector cuts? Or see how long a spell on the dole I'm entitled to?
Even if my contract does get renewed for another year, there's that depressing reality that endless "precarious" (as they say in France) one-year contracts are all that's on offer, with no real hope of advancement.
There are none of the permanent "job till you die" (or rather, retire at whatever age Sarko's fixed on) 'titulaire' posts on offer where I am anyway, but in order to get one of those jobs as a librarian employed by the state, here's what you have to do (brief version). Unless you've been working for the govt for a few years already, you need to have a degree (fair enough) unless you're the mother or father of at least 3 kids, or a sportsman/woman at a high level. Yo, France, WTF? To be a librarian? Anyway, if you fill these bizarre conditions (well, the degree part isn't so bizarre), you get to enrol for the national civil service exam for librarians. Then you get sit two 4-hour exams, one of which consists of summarizing a dossier of documents in French (not all that clear on what that means) and the other writing an essay on the mission of libraries, information and book science and cultural practices. If you pass these two exams, you get to have oral exams - a 30 minute interview with a 'jury' commenting on a text related to 'a professional situation', followed by a 30 minute interview commenting on a text to do with culture, then 30 minutes where you have 10 minutes to translate a text from a foreign language and then 20 minutes discussing the text in that language (English included of course - possibly the only part I might pass).
So, okay, let's say some miracle happened and I actually passed (I mean, not going to happen in a million years, but for the sake of argument). The most recent statistics for the concours are for 2009. For the external concours for librarians in that year, 4510 people enrolled, 2295 showed up for the exam, 73 passed, and the best 18 were offered posts. Eighteen. The site helpfully calculates this for you - that's 1.31% of the people who sat the exam. And if you're not one of the eighteen, hey, there's always next year, right?
So, you know, job security? Not bloody any time soon. And yes, this is why anyone who manages to get one of these jobs will proceed just to sit around and be unhelpful until they retire. As for private sector jobs, well I dunno, I never see any advertised. Well this turned out more depressing than intended. Better go cheer myself up by cleaning the house, that'll do it.