New measures to help ease labour shortages

The Flemish Government has announced a 100-million-euro investment in measures that it hopes will increase employment levels and help ease the labour shortages that exist in some sectors of the Flemish economy. The Flemish Government, the employers’ federations and two of the three trade unions back the measures contained in the new employment agreement. However, the socialist trades union is sceptical and has not signed up to the accord.  

Under the new measures an employer that hires a person that had been long-term unemployed will be given a discount on the amount of social security contribution they have to pay for their new employee. 

Payments will also be given to long-term unemployment people that follow a vocational training course for a profession where there are currently labour shortages. The package of measures will cost the Flemish Government around 100 million euro during the next two years. 

During the past couple of months, the unions and the employers have been presenting their plan to the Flemish Government. On Friday, the new plan was given the official backing of the Flemish Cabinet. 100 million euro of public money will be invested to ensure that they plan can be realised. The Flemish Government hopes that the plan will help achieve its ambition of reaching an employment rate of 80% in our region. Currently 75% of Flemings aged between 18 and 65 are in employment.  

40 measures in total

Speaking on Friday morning, the Flemish Prime Minister Jan Jambon (nationalist) said that “Our ambition is to create around 120,000 additional jobs before the end of the legislature. The employment agreement is absolutely in line with this objective, and I would like to thank everyone around the table for their cooperation.”

The employers and the (two of the) unions have agreed 40 measures to help resolve labour shortages and to get more Flemings back to work. The measures fall into five main categories: activation (of those currently not working) training, making work accessible for those for whom this is currently difficult, interregional mobility ( attracting people from Brussels and Wallonia to work in Flanders) and economic migration (from abroad).

As mentioned above one of the most far-reaching measures is the granting of a discount on the social security contribution paid by an employer for new members of staff that had either been long-term unemployed or had been economically inactive for a long period, for example due to illness.

Jobseekers not entitled to unemployment benefits, such as housewives and househusbands will be offered grants if they take vocational training courses for professions where there are currently staff shortages such as social care and construction.

Anyone that becomes unemployed and doesn’t find a new job straight away will in future be invited for an interview at the Flemish Employment and Vocational Training Service (VDAB) after just 2 weeks.

6 of the 7 social partners have signed up to the new accord. The socialist trades union ABVV withdraw its support in March as it wasn’t happy with the draft agreement and even less so with the modifications made to it by the Flemish Government. 

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