“Employers are too demanding” says Flemish Employment Minister

Although tens of thousands of vacancies remain unfilled in our region, employers continue to set the bar high when it comes to what they demand of those applying for jobs. A study by the Flemish employment and vocational training service VDAB has found that companies demand an average of seven soft skills from job applicants. 

The Sunday edition of the daily ‘Het Nieuwsblad op Zondag’ reports that one in five companies even demand 10 soft skills from those applying for a job with them. 

VDAB’s Managaging Director Wim Andriaens told the paper that “Qualifications are important when looking for a job. However, good soft skills are also becoming increasingly important. A growing number of employers are even prepared to teach candidates the necessary technical know-how on the job as long as they have good general skills such as good time keeping and being able to work autonomously”. 

In order to find out the importance of soft skills to employers that are looking to recruit new staff VDAB examined 253,530 job vacancies. The employment and vocational training service found that that the soft skill that is by far the most in demand is the ability to work autonomously. This skill appeared in 8 out of 10 of the vacancies VDAB examined. 

70% of employers expect candidates to be able to follow rules and instructions. Meanwhile, 69% of employers demand that candidates are able to work with accuracy and precision. 

Just 26% of the job vacancies looked at by VDAB demand that candidates have good commercial skills, while the ability to think creatively is demanded of candidates for 36% of the job vacancies surveyed. Half of the vacancies demand that candidates have an ability to learn. 

Although one might think that employers may be less demanding of candidates for jobs requiring lower levels of academic attainment when it comes to soft skills this is barely the case.  

The Flemish Employment Minister Hilde Crevits (Christian democrat, photo above) told the paper that she believes that employers are too demanding. 

"This is rather much in a labour market that is on fire with many vacancies that are remaining unfilled. The question is whether all these demands are really necessary”.

Ms Crevits added that "Given the tight labour market I would like to call on employers to sometimes be a little more open. Training is the new recruiting”. 

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