Number of non-European truckers, cooks and butchers in Flanders doubles in a year
The number of truck drivers, cooks and butchers coming from outside Europe to work in Flanders has doubled in one year. This is according to the annual report of the Flemish Service for Economic Migration.
Since the second half of 2021, the number of vacancies for these professions has increased significantly. To meet the demand, employers can hire people locally or from elsewhere in the EU via the free movement of workers. Despite some 150,000 EU workers coming to Flanders, it is impossible to find enough butchers, healthcare workers or cooks.
Employers are therefore able to recruit migrant workers from outside the EU to fill these jobs, and they are increasingly doing so. As a result, the number of permits granted to workers from outside Europe increased by almost 90 per cent to 16,100 in 2022. The figure for 2021 was 8,600.
The government of Flanders has been drawing up a list of bottleneck occupations every two years since 2019, determining for which positions an employer can hire outside the EU. "We recently had to extend the list of occupations," Flemish Labour minister Jo Brouns (CD&V) told VRT NWS. "A total of 234 bottleneck occupations are now on the list. Employers with such vacancies cannot find enough candidates in our country or in the EU."
More than a third of the migrant workers (1,350) last year were truck drivers. There were also significant numbers of cooks (281), healthcare workers (212) and butchers (178). Almost half of the workers came from Turkey or Morocco. India was the leading country of origin outside the EU for healthcare workers.
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