Jobs in Flanders is a project which we launched in October 2019 to tackle both unemployment in Brussels and open vacancies in Flanders. With this initiative, we want to persuade Brussels-based job seekers who do not have an affinity with their city per se to deploy their energies in Flanders. And this approach seems to be gaining in popularity, because in one month we have already found 10 people who are willing to accept jobs in Flanders. Two of them have even effectively relocated already and started their new employment. In the light of the positive results achieved by this pilot project in a single month, we are now going to integrate the project fully into our structure.
The number of open vacancies in Flanders is hovering between 250,000 and 300,000 at the end of 2019, because the majority of the Flemish population is in employment. This is a sharp contrast to the Brussels Region with its 15% unemployment rate. To remedy this, with Jobs in Flanders we are aiming to offer Brussels job seekers a solution and help them to find jobs here. “It’s actually up to the government to promote cross-regional initiatives. At the moment we’re seeing a growing awareness of this problem among politicians, but it hasn't been translated into concrete action as yet,” says Anna Gaik, General Manager with Accent. “The different powers of the regions concerned are insufficiently aligned, and as a result the intended results fail to materialise. We want to make a start with Jobs in Flanders”.
Less foreign immigration
The problem with vacancies in Flanders is not just due to the low level of unemployment in the Flemish Region (4%). The influx of temporary employees from countries such as Poland, Portugal, Romania and Moldova is also slackening off. These countries’ unemployment rate was comparable to that in Flanders in November 2019, as a result of which people no longer have to go abroad to find work. In Poland, for example, the unemployment rate is barely 3.4%. Flemish vacancies are therefore no longer being filled by immigration.
Getting people from outside Flanders into work also demands the necessary support. One third of the Brussels unemployed have a background of migration. With Jobs in Flanders, we won't just help these people to find jobs, they will also have the right support. We will help them in their search for accommodation, and also offer the required support with regard to integration and language. We have already built up the expertise we need about migration and integration with Accent Foreign, our specialist department which focuses on immigration from abroad and has now integrated some 250 people into Flanders.
A first step towards lower unemployment
Naturally, we are well aware that we’re still a long way from achieving a lower unemployment rate in Brussels and fewer vacancies in Flanders. “We realise that the vacancy problem in Flanders will not be solved entirely by this means, but we do believe we can fill some of the vacancies this way,” says Anna Gaik. “At the same time, with Jobs in Flanders we want to do something to help with a social problem: the fact that immigrant youths find it difficult to get a job. Two people will be assigned to this project full time at Accent”.