“Employers often too reluctant to hire non-EU workers”

Of all EU nations the share of non-EU citizens in employment or looking for work is lowest in Belgium. Piet Cosemans of the Flemish employment agency VDAB says employers are all too often reluctant to hire non-EU workers.

Figures from the EU statistics agency Eurostat show that 59.4% of non-EU foreigners aged between 20 and 64 were either in employment or looking for a job last year. This does not compare favourably with the figure for Belgians. 74% of Belgians in this category are working or looking for a job.

Across the EU the share of non-EU citizens in work or looking for a job is 69.8%.

It's not all bad news for Belgium. The gap between the native and non-EU levels of the population in work or looking for a job is greatest in the Netherlands: 22.5%. The gap in Belgium is merely 14.6% putting us in seventh place.

Piet Cosemans of the Flemish employment agency VDAB says Belgium has performed badly for years when it comes to work levels among immigrants. He blames employers saying that all too often they are reluctant to hire non-EU workers.

Employers' organisation VBO recognises there is a problem, but is keen to stress the improvement in recent years.

Bart Croes: "The VBO is creating awareness of this issue among Belgian business and is staging workshops." He also points to the role of the authorities: "It should be government policy and a policy that doesn't solely target the private sector."