Belgium sees strong job growth amid vacancy challenges in labour market
According to a new report from the High Council for Employment (HRW), more than 100,000 jobs were added last year in Belgium. Paradoxically, there were at least 200,000 job vacancies in the labour market.
While many industries have recovered after the pandemic, Steven Vanackere, the vice-chair of HRW, warns that these figures could become an economic problem in the long term. However, predictions indicate that job growth will stabilise at a "normal" level of 40,000 to 50,000 jobs per year in the coming years.
The job vacancy rate for the labour market in Belgium is 4.7 per cent compared to the EU average of 2.8 per cent. That 4.7 per cent equates to 200,000 vacancies. "So 100,000 jobs were created, but there was a potential of 200,000," Vanackere said.
Additionally, there is the participation rate to take into account. This refers to the percentage of people working and those actively looking for jobs in the 20 to 64 age group. The Belgian average is 76 per cent, while in the European Union, it is 79.4 per cent. 300,000 people would need to join the labour market to close that gap.
"It will be vital to activate people"
Figures showed that the unemployment rate in Belgium has reached a historically low level of 5.6 per cent. In Flanders, unemployment comes in at 3.2 per cent.
A crucial element in meeting the needs of the labour market will be to get younger people working. "The number of people of working age will start to drop. So it will be vital to activate people," Vanackere says.
Another solution is to increase interregional mobility based on the number of people from one region working in another. HRW is also calling for an extension of the list of shortage occupations eligible for economic migration. This exercise is being carried out in Germany.
© OLIVIER-GUY DEMOULIN