Asylum seekers to work in construction
On Friday morning the Federal Secretary of State responsible for asylum and migration Sammi Mahdi (Flemish Christian democrat) and the employers and trade unions in construction industry announced a programme that will enable asylum seekers that wish to and have the relevant skills to be put to work on Belgian building sites. The cooperation between the asylum agency Fedasil and the construction industry will enable asylum seekers to work while their application is being processed while at the same help the construction industry fill some of the many thousands of vacancies that it currently has.
The construction industry currently has around 20,000 vacancies. The new cooperation agreement will ensure that many asylum seekers will be able to be taken on by construction companies to help fill at least some of the situations that are currently vacant.
The first pilot scheme that was launched on Friday is at one of the construction company Louis De Waele’s building sites in Brussels. Other pilot projects are also being launched in Wallonia and Flanders. A total pf 50 construction companies have already said that they will be asking to take on asylum seekers.
Those involved say that scheme is a win-win situation in which asylum seekers are given the opportunity to get training and employment, while the shortage of labour that confronts the construction industry is being addressed.
Asylum seekers are allowed to work from 4 months after they have submitted their asylum application and can continue to do so as long as their asylum procedure is ongoing.
An ethical charter has been included in the cooperation agreement in order to prevent undeclared work and other irregularities. All the companies involved must comply with social legislation and must pay asylum seekers the same wage as any other employee.
The construction companies will be able to get in touch with asylum seekers that are interested in a job thanks to an information and awareness campaign, job days and information sessions that will be given in asylum centres. Those who want to work will be screened according to educational attainment, qualifications, language skills and whether they have a driving licence. On the basis of this they will be either offered a job they can start straight away or given training.