HANS PUT

Number of shoemakers 20 percent down: "Profession has image problem"

The number of shoemakers in Belgium has dropped by 20 percent in 10 years' time. "But still the demand is intact," says the national union of the self-employed (NSZ).  

The figures were supplied by the federal Economy Department. It is not easy to follow a vocational training if you want to become a shoemaker: it's only possible in evening schools. Dave is one of the few who did it. At 29 years of age, he is Belgium's youngest shoemaker: "The profession has lost its attraction. You need to have a real passion", he told the VRT. 

Christine Mattheeuws of the NSZ says that the profession is battling an image problem. "And still, it has its pros, because demand is a lot bigger than supply. The fewer shoemakers, the more work for those that remain." 

Many towns or villages no longer have a shoemaker. Dave sees that many of his clients come from neighbouring towns. "I see all ages, young and old. And yes, we can also repair sneakers."