Flanders opens its doors to foreign talent

7 December 2018

“Controlled labour migration is necessary to maintain our prosperity.” Flemish Employment Minister Philippe Muyters wants to increase Flanders’ attractiveness to draw in more foreign talent. He is reviewing the procedures and drawing up a dynamic list of occupations facing labour shortages.

Enhancing attractiveness

The number of job opportunities in Flanders is reaching a new high and many employers are struggling in their search for the right people to fill these vacancies. That is why Minister Muyters is now looking abroad. For the highly educated, the threshold for access remains very low, without the need for a labour market survey. Minister Muyters is nevertheless implementing several changes that should increase the attractiveness of Flanders:

  • the maximum duration of work permits will be extended to three years, instead of the current 12-month limit;
  • in certain cases, it will also be easier for workers to be employed in another company without having to apply for a new work permit;
  • wages, including for young people and nurses, will be aligned with current real wages on the labour market;
  • when a work permit is granted, an employment agreement with the country of origin will no longer be a condition of admissibility;
  • highly-qualified people will be able to gain access to the labour market for an indefinite period after having worked here for a number of years.

Maintaining prosperity

In addition, there is a need for specifically-trained technical personnel in almost all sectors. In order to meet this need, Minister Muyters has compiled a list of occupations with labour shortages. These are occupations with a structurally high quantitative shortage on our labour market. “First we search within Flanders, then within Belgium, the neighbouring countries, then throughout Europe, and finally the whole world. That vision will also continue in the future: we must first get our own talented people working. However, when this really is not enough, we also have to look (far) beyond our borders. We need working people to maintain our prosperity and to bear the costs of the ageing of the population,” says Philippe Muyters.

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