Earlier this month, my mother received a letter detailing my requirement to fulfill my “Universal National Service.” As a French citizen between the ages of sixteen and eighteen, I have to complete one month of service to France, whether it be volunteer work or military preparation. French president Emmanuel Macron has fulfilled a major campaign promise in this new plan. The draft in France was removed in 1997, but Macron promised to unite French adolescents by having them engaged and playing a role in their society. While many youth organizations have opposed the plan, it will serve to instill a passion for serving one’s country at a young age.

The plan Macron introduced in late June consists of two phases for French citizens aged sixteen to eighteen: the first phase is a compulsory one-month installment in which one can do teaching, charity work, or spend a month with the military. The second phase must last between three months and a year and is more oriented towards taking a part in the defense sector, be it with the police, the “gendarmerie” (one of two national police forces in France), the firefighters, the army, or civil security. The goal of this mandatory service is for adolescents to create new relationships with others, especially the people they are working with during that month.

Once living independently, college and high school graduates are expected to find a job and a sustainable source of income; France currently suffers a terrible unemployment rate, however, with 9.1 percent of the population jobless. While Macron hasn’t specifically sought a plan to reduce this rate, this Universal National Service is very valuable for the French people. Giving a sense of unity to the young will help them tremendously in finding jobs once they are out of high school and university, since the current youth unemployment rate is 20.20 percent (compared to 8.50 percent in the United States). Seeing as such a high rate exists because the youth are deemed unqualified, this plan gives an opportunity to experience working in France at a young age. Those who are unable to find a job but have completed the second phase of the plan could seek a job in French defense, as many jobless high school and college graduates do in the United States.

Many youth organizations in France oppose the plan and are unhappy being compelled to take part. Sixty percent of the population, though, approves of it. The economic and social benefits outweigh the lack of choice. Playing a part in the country’s social work is not only a valuable experience for a teenager but also for the charities and organizations involved. This plan is a major boost to Macron’s popularity with the French right wing, and, overall, a substantial gain for France’s welfare.