Foreign workers make up 16 per cent of labour force in Belgium

Almost 16 per cent of the people active in the Belgian labour market are not Belgian nationals, according to HR company Acerta. Foreign workers in Belgium come mainly from Morocco, France and the Netherlands.

The share of non-Belgian workers in the labour force was 15.8 per cent in 2022, says Acerta. With certain sectors experiencing severe labour shortages, companies that cannot find suitable candidates are increasingly turning to foreign workers to meet their needs. 

The share of foreign workers has risen steadily over the last five years, reaching 12.6 per cent in 2017 and 14.8 per cent in 2021. Moroccans make up 9 per cent of the labour force, the largest share after Belgians (84.2 per cent). 

The French (8.2 per cent) are the second most represented nationality, followed by the Dutch (7.3 per cent). Romania (7 per cent) and Poland (5.6 per cent) complete the top five.

The two nationalities with the largest increase are Ukrainians (+97.7 per cent compared to 2021) and Afghans (+13.9 per cent). Last year, they represented 1.3 per cent and 1.7 per cent respectively of the Belgian labour force.

Most foreign workers are employed in transport and logistics (25.7 per cent), food (21.1 per cent), hotels and catering (18.8 per cent) or construction (17.8 per cent).

In addition to filling vacancies, "research has repeatedly shown that diversity benefits the atmosphere and creativity in the workplace," says Acerta. However, three out of four companies do not have a diversity policy in place to better integrate different nationalities and cultures in the workplace.



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