The French labour market continues to suffer from a high unemployment rate, including a rising level of youth and long term unemployment. Combined with the high level of early school leaving, this leads to a growing group of low skilled young people with few prospects. Moreover, the low adult participation rate in lifelong learning does little to correct this situation. The reliable health and social services in France have helped its population through the economic crisis, although it has not prevented an increase in the poverty rate and ‘in-work poverty’. Reforms focused simply on their cost-effectiveness threaten to strain the access to, and quality of, these services.