View from the Ground
The unemployment rate in Belgium has never been so low, yet despite that only 70% of the active working population has a job – which is a direct consequence of companies being unable to find people with the right skills. To stimulate the labour market, the Belgian Government took several measures, including tax reductions, which did lead to an increase in the number of jobs. However, the lack of the right skills and the rising number of vacancies has created pressure on the temporary worker market, because companies are choosing permanent workers over temporary ones in order to increase their chances of retaining the key talent within their company. Skilled workers also have the luxury of being in demand and are turning to permanent positions instead of temporary ones.
Robby Vanuxem, Managing Director, Hays Belgium
Key Skills in Demand
- Engineers (Industrial and Civil)
- Technicians R&D/Sciences
- IT Developers/Analysts
- Multilingual Sales Support
In 2018, GDP in Belgium grew by 1.4%, marginally below the average of 1.5% for the previous four years. The numbers of jobless fell, with the unemployment rate decreasing from 7.1% in 2017 to 6% in 2018, its lowest level in 40 years. That said the youth unemployment rate (under 25 year-olds) remains higher at 15.8%, despite being down from 19.5% in 2017.
The Government introduced several measures to boost flexibility, fluidity and participation in the labour market. It narrowed the eligibility criteria for unemployment benefit, permitted shorter notice periods during the first few months of employment, introduced working-hour flexibility in the eCommerce industry and handed tax benefits to employers hiring their first worker.