Percentage of non-Belgian workers stagnates, except in healthcare

Last year, 15.7 per cent of employees in Belgium had a foreign nationality. After years of growth, the proportion has fallen slightly (0.1 percentage points). However, one sector is bucking the trend: the health sector, which is up 2 percentage points, recruitment agency Acerta reported on Thursday.

The share of non-Belgian workers in the workforce remains virtually unchanged, as it was 15.8 per cent in 2022, according to previous figures from Acerta. With certain sectors experiencing severe shortages, companies have increasingly turned to foreign workers in recent years. The share of foreign workers rose steadily, from 12.6 per cent in 2017 to 14.8 per cent in 2021.

Despite the stagnation in 2023, the share of non-Belgian workers in the health sector has still increased. At 10.2 per cent, it remains below average, but represents a notable increase from 6.4 per cent 10 years ago.

Blue-collar workers

The largest proportion of non-Belgians work in the health and social work sector. They account for 23 per cent of employees there, compared with 9 per cent of white-collar workers. Acerta explains this difference by the relative importance of language: "Blue-collar workers often perform tasks that are less related to direct care - such as cleaning, kitchen duties or technical services. Language, culture and qualifications are much less important here" than in direct care.

The language issue also explains why there are proportionately more non-Belgian workers in Wallonia than in Flanders. "The fact that the French-speaking area outside Belgium is larger than the Dutch-speaking area means that it is more difficult to work in Flanders than in Wallonia," the report says.

Dutch workers

Dutch people are the most represented non-Belgians in the health sector (26.1 per cent of workers with a different nationality), followed by the French (22.2 per cent), Moroccans (13.3 per cent), Germans (10.2 per cent) and Congolese (8.8 per cent).

Taking all sectors together, the countries most represented among foreign workers were France (18.4 per cent), the Netherlands (16.4 per cent), Morocco (16.2 per cent), Romania (15.6 per cent) and Poland (12.7 per cent).




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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.

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