February 26, 2024

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Flemish social partners sign agreement to address labor market shortages |  the interior

Flemish social partners sign agreement to address labor market shortages | the interior

In order to remedy the shortage in this Flemish labor market and the years to come, the social partners within the Social and Economic Council of Flanders (SERV) have concluded an employment agreement. Saturday service reports. “It is good that there is an agreement,” answers Flemish Labor Minister Hilda Krewitz (CD&V). The N-VA majority party has already criticized some of the proposals.

Under the heading ‘Everyone Wanted, All Participated’, the service offers around forty proposals for the Flemish government to tackle the problems. This relates, among other things, to the RSZ deduction when hiring the long-term unemployed or a transitional allowance for those who are no longer really able to handle their jobs.

Employers and employees note that almost all sectors are under pressure due to a shortage of workers, but at the same time there is still a large reserve of people who do not (or cannot) actively participate in the labor market.

They also realize that employability is critical to boosting the employment rate. Lifelong learning presents another challenge – Flanders lags behind compared to other European regions.

Employers and employees expect that labor market shortages will remain a structural problem for the next ten years. This explains the need for “many structural measures in the employment agreement”.

four corners

This agreement rests on four pillars: revitalization to achieve more results and attract returnees, encouragement of more aggressive training, focus on practical work, exploitation of opportunities for inter-regional mobility and economic migration.

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“It’s burning in the Flemish job market,” says Hans Mertens, Cerf’s chairman. “To address shortages and mismatches in the labor market, we are joining forces with employee organizations to solve acute problems in the labor market as quickly as possible.” He thinks of “faster and more intensive guidance” to job seekers and “correct and accurate” compliance with inspections and penalties.

An important task was therefore set aside for VDAB in the SERV proposal. The latter should accelerate its communication strategy “in the very short term”, but also “re-screen all job seekers as soon as possible”. VDAB should also make a more careful examination of the requirements for excessive vacancies.

Another task of VDAB is to create extensive projects around mobility between regions, with Brussels and the Walloon region, pooling vacancies from different companies, as is already happening for companies around the airport in Zaventem.

Anyone who has not worked for at least two years should be treated differently in terms of social partners and receive incentives “from different quarters”. This includes a premium if they follow long-term training that leads to a shortage in the profession, and an RSZ deduction for employers for hiring so-called “returnees”.

SERV Vice President Carolyn Coopers emphasizes that the proposals make a structural effort toward viable business “by creating an operability fund and including operability checks in a sustainable and structural manner.” The purpose of the relocation premium is to temporarily compensate for lost wages to people who are unable to continue their work due to the weight of their work or illness, in the hope that they will remain very active.

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In the context of workability, the Services Service also makes an appeal for “childcare that covers needs, is affordable and flexible enough”.

With this proposal, the SERV is now approaching the Flemish government to conclude an agreement with it as soon as possible and to implement the measures concretely.

political reactions

Flemish Labor Minister Hilda Krewitz (CD&V) has already reacted positively to the agreement.

From the majority party N-VA, Flemish MP Axel Rons is already questioning the bonus for pursuing bottleneck training. “I find this suggestion disgusting,” he says. “Doing everything possible to find work is precisely the condition of unemployment benefits. It should be just the opposite: anyone who does not accept such an offer of training should be disqualified from the advantage.”

Nor is Ronce enthusiastic about the government’s plan to lose wages if someone moves to a lower-paying job for medical reasons.