Attracting Brussels candidates from the Flemish Periphery

Published on: 19 March 2019
Employment services VDAB and Actiris are joining forces to get the people of Brussels interested in a job in the Flemish Periphery. Under the motto, ‘Nouveau job? Le Prochain stop!’ (New job? At the next stop!), jobseekers step aboard a ‘hop on job off’ bus in search of a new challenge close to Brussels but still in Flanders. Select is also familiar with this issue; we often focus on jobseekers in Brussels from our offices in Groot-Bijgaarden and Zaventem.

About one-fifth of the vacancies in the Flemish Periphery remains open today. In 2018, the VDAB received 14,672 vacancies, 3,000 of which still need to be filled. With the campaign ‘Nouveau job? Le Prochain stop!’, VDAB & Actiris want to make the companies in the Flemish Periphery more visible. “We’re doing this because this is unknown territory for many of Brussels’ French-speaking inhabitants,” says Geert Pauwels, director of VDAB Brussels. Many people in Brussels think that the language gap or the distance cannot be bridged. But nothing could be further from the truth. The jobs are physically close; public transport will get you to your new employer within half an hour.” 

Ilse Vanden Eede, office manager for the Select office in Groot-Bijgaarden, also notes that Brussels is closer than most people think: “We consciously chose this location because of its accessibility. Just take tram 19 from the centre of Brussels to get to the office.” But it’s not just the distance that’s a stumbling block for the inhabitants of Brussels; it’s also the language. “We are certainly looking for candidates in the centre of Brussels, but companies in our region often require knowledge of Dutch. Bilingualism is often a prerequisite.”

Actiris distributes almost 9,000 language vouchers a year to Brussels residents to take Dutch lessons and the VDAB offices in Brussels provided 1,460 Dutch courses for job-seekers in Brussels in 2018. “Of course, the VDAB’s offer of language lessons is a great initiative. Many of our customers would consider a basis in Dutch and the will to learn it to be a good start,” says Ilse.

Katia Claeys, office manager for the Select office in Zaventem, near the capital, also notices that bilingualism is a must if you want to work in the Flemish Periphery: “We always ask our customers for a top 3 of their must-haves. Certain competencies are a must to perform your job, but a language often isn’t included in the top three. We try to get customers interested in accepting monolingual candidate profiles.”

And customers are evolving as well. So, monolingualism is no longer an obstacle for some, Katia observes: “Companies that no longer find bilingual or trilingual candidate profiles are adapting to the shortage. For example, we see that when a line arrives at a customer service department, a language distinction is made immediately. This is being done with increased frequency so that companies can also attract monolingual profiles and bilingualism no longer has to be an issue.”

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