Newcomers without qualifications must train for 'bottleneck jobs'

Newcomers without a high school diploma will now have to undergo compulsory training for "bottleneck professions", jobs for which employers have difficulty finding suitable candidates, Het Nieuwsblad reports on Thursday.

The Flemish government has given the go-ahead for the proposal, introduced by Integration minister Bart Somers. He wants low-skilled newcomers to work as, for example, truck drivers or nurses, and learn the trade through on-the-job training. "They are a kind of apprenticeship," Somers said. "You work, get paid and acquire professional skills in the process."

The training will be part of the integration programme, which already includes Dutch lessons, social orientation, compulsory registration with employment intermediary VDAB and the buddy programme. "It is an obligation," says Somers. "If a newcomer still wants to stay at home after that programme, they can do so at their own expense. But this way we help them stand on their own two feet faster."

According to the latest figures, 35 per cent of newcomers do not have a secondary education diploma. Flanders is struggling to get them into work: after two years, only 36 per cent of low-skilled men and 17 per cent of low-skilled women have found work.


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