Flanders sees rise in bottleneck professions: technical skills in high demand

The number of "bottleneck" occupations in Flanders continues to rise, even though the number of vacancies is falling, figures from the employment service VDAB showed on Monday. Despite economic uncertainty and caution among employers, the number of bottleneck occupations rose to 241 this year, seven more than last year.

Bottleneck occupations are roles that are particularly difficult to fill. As in previous years, technical profiles are particularly hard to find. Industrial plant technician is the hardest vacancy to fill, followed by nurse, domestic cleaner, site manager, industrial automation technician, maintenance mechanic, fruit grower, accountant, road worker and construction quantity surveyor.

Even for occupations not on this list, finding suitable workers remains a challenge for companies in Flanders. "We are in a bottleneck economy due to an ageing population. Every vacancy is a challenge," says VDAB spokesperson Joke Van Bommel.

Fewer candidates

The widespread staff shortage is also reflected in the "tension indicator" for the Flemish labour market, which stood at 2.3 in December 2023. This means that, on average, there are only 2.3 applicants per vacancy. Ideally, there should be five candidates per job opening.

"We are in a bottleneck economy due to an ageing population. Every vacancy is a challenge"

At the beginning of last year, the list of bottleneck occupations had grown to 234 occupations, or 36 per cent of all jobs in Flanders. "Thanks to the list of bottleneck occupations, we can set priorities and work out a targeted approach to fill vacancies in these occupations," Flemish minister of Labour and Economy Jo Brouns said at the time.

In August, federal Employment minister Pierre-Yves Dermagne proposed a more flexible appoach towards recruiting undocumented immigrants to fill shortage profiles.

VDAB CEO Wim Adriaens reiterated on Tuesday that jobseekers can receive free training for a shortage occupation.


#FlandersNewsService | © BELGA PHOTO JONAS ROOSENS

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