A France electric battery company gave Claudette Carré a chance to reinvent herself and to live securely.

A chance encounter led Claudette Carré to her new job at Forsee Power.

Claudette was wandering around a local job forum looking for ways to restart her career. Her long-and-winding professional path, which included 20 years as an executive assistant, had recently stalled after she closed a restaurant-bar she and a former partner owned. She had made ends meet by accepting a series of temporary office jobs. In her fifties, Claudette knew that landing a permanent position wasn’t going to be easy.

At the forum, a counselor from the local unemployment office read her CV. A new company that specialised in electric batteries was opening a factory in Chasseneuil-du-Poitou, a town near Poitiers, he said, and was looking for people. After a series of interviews and tests, Claudette got a permanent contract. In a somewhat radical transformation, she was starting over again: this time on the factory floor of a high-tech start-up.  

“This job represents a lot to me. It’s a future that I hadn’t hoped for, since I’m 54 years old,” she says. “When the unemployment office contacted me for the job, I leapt at it.” 

France electric battery company is ‘buzzing all over’

Forsee designs and produces electric batteries for industrial vehicles and the buses, trains and trams used in public transport networks. A €20 million loan by the European Investment Bank, the EU bank, is helping finance new production facilities and research and development.  The fast-growing company, which already had about 150 employees at its headquarters in Chasseneuil-du-Poitou, expects to add another 150 by 2021.

“It seems like there are new people everywhere,” Claudette says. “It’s buzzing all over.”

Claudette’s job is one of millions created with European Investment Bank support.  By 2021, investments signed by the European Investment Bank Group in 2017 alone are expected to raise EU gross domestic product by 1.1% and to create 1.2 million jobs.  Even in 2036, EU GDP will be 0.7% higher as a result of the EIB's 2017 investments, and 650 000 extra jobs will have been added.

Claudette works on the production line making sure the battery closures are correctly installed. “I’m quite good with my hands, and it’s interesting work,” she says. “We don’t package candies. These are dangerous things, and you have to pay attention.”

The job has brought a permanence to her life that was missing. “I’m someone who likes stability, and this job brought me that – even emotionally,” she says. “I no longer have to ask myself: ‘Will I work next week?’ I’m much less stressed.”  

Claudette, who describes herself as an optimist, says she remained hopeful while looking for work. But unemployment took a toll, personally and professionally. “I was afraid. There are certain companies that won’t hire someone over a certain age,” she says. “When you are unemployed, you put your private life on hold because you doubt yourself.”

“This job allowed me to live again.”