Flemish labour migration strategy disappoints employers

The Flemish government's list of bottleneck occupations, for which easier labour migration is facilitated due to staff shortages, remains limited. Flemish employers' organisation Voka is "disappointed" because employers and trade unions had asked the government for a substantial expansion, financial newspaper De Tijd reported on Thursday.

After a delayed two-yearly update, the list of bottleneck occupations now includes 29 positions - seven more than the previous list. New occupations have been added, such as driver, tiler, bricklayer and plasterer. At the same time, other occupations such as chef and rigger have been removed because they are susceptible to fraud.

In Wallonia, the list includes 75 bottleneck occupations.

'Missed opportunity'

Both employers and trade unions had unanimously called for the Flemish list to be significantly expanded to include more than 50 bottleneck occupations in order to respond to labour market shortages. "This is a missed opportunity," said Voka CEO Hans Maertens in De Tijd, referring to the 70,000 unfilled vacancies in Flanders.

"Economic migration is a powerful short-term solution"

"Economic migration is a must for our companies in these times," Maertens said. "You cannot continue to hide behind the internal labour reserve [the large number of inactive people] and allow economic migration to seep into our labour market only in homeopathic doses. We need to put more effort into training and career development, activate the inactive more decisively (...) but economic migration is a powerful short-term solution."

Based on the list of bottleneck occupations, an employer can hire someone from a non-EU country for a fixed term without an individual labour market test. This speeds up the process, although employers say it needs to be speeded up further to avoid losing the "war for talent" to neighbouring countries.



#FlandersNewsService | Voka CEO Hans Maertens © BELGA PHOTO JONAS ROOSENS

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