The number of foreign nationals working in Belgium continues to grow. Currently 15% of the workforce are foreign nationals. The figure rose by a fifth in recent years. Sabine Goossens, HR expert at Acerta Consult, identifies several reasons why fewer foreign nationals are at work in the care sector than in other economic fields: “Language and cultural differences play a greater role in this sector because the care profession is one that puts people at its heart and where human contact is tremendously important. For many jobs in the care sector a specific diploma is required and diplomas issued outside the EU first need to be recognised. This doesn’t always go smoothly”.
Dutch nationals lead the league table of foreign workers in care followed by French, German, Polish and Romanian citizens. Moroccan and Congolese nationals are the most numerous among non-EU citizens in Belgian care homes and hospitals.
There’s a shortage of several roles in the care sector and many vacancies remain unfilled. Peter Much, head of a care home in Alsemberg (Flemish Brabant), explains how two Indian nurses, who were recently recruited, receive language coaching twice a week.
Acerta’s Sabine Goossens recognises that many care bodies accept the need to reflect society at large accurately and recommends language lessons, the use of pictograms and changes to each worker’s package of tasks as a way of promoting inclusivity.