The big five public players on the labour market, VDAB, Le Forem, Actiris, Bruxelles Formation and ADG*, will use a common competence language from now on automatically to match vacancies with job-seekers, using the same descriptions for skills and knowledge associated with vacancies and candidates. The project will promote labour mobility across the regions that make up Belgium.

How it all began

In 2012, the Social and Economic Council of Flanders (SERV) launched the Compentent professions database, which consists of 537 occupational profiles spanning the entire labour market. They contain information about each profession, tasks jobholders need to perform, related skills and knowledge, how the job is organised and more.

Competent is based on an existing database of occupations (ROMEv3, répertoire opérationnel des métiers et des emplois) of the French employment service Pôle Emploi. Profiles from the French database were supplemented with extra information and adapted to Belgian and Flemish regulations.

Competent is a product of SERV in partnership with the Flemish Employment and Training Service (VDAB). SERV ensures profiles remain up-to-date and that they are approved by the social partners. VDAB bases its services on Competent and uses it among other things to guide job-seekers, to provide career guidance and for automatic matching.

Competent is able to support sectors, companies and organisations with job classifications, and more. Based on the data in Competent, they can develop instruments e linked to those used, for example, by providers of employment services and training.

Employment services based on Competent

VDAB has been working since early 2013 with an automatic matching system capable of linking required skills of vacancies to job-seeker skills. Matches used to be generated from degree, age or region alone, now the process takes activities and required skills from the Competent database into account as well. The project is a success, with over 63% of vacancies automatically enriched with skills related to the job in question. Some temporary employment agencies already create similar vacancies in their own systems and exchange them with VDAB for matching.

Impressed by the results, other regional employment institutions in Brussels, Wallonia and German-speaking Belgium have expressed a desire to join, leading to an agreement between five Belgian partners* and SERV to use Competent as the standard for employment services from now on. At present, focus is on automatic matching, but the project is set to expand its scope to cover services such as training, assessment, skill validation, and more.

The common competence language will become more widespread as use of Competent increases, thereby supporting interregional mobility in Belgium. For example, a young job-seeker in Brussels will find it much easier to look for a job in Brussels via Actiris or Brussels Formation, as well as further afield in Flanders or Wallonia.

European perspective

Competent has the potential to boost interregional and European mobility. At the moment, data are already interchangeable between France and Luxembourg thanks to Competent's French roots.

*VDAB, Actiris, Forem and ADG are the public employment services in Belgium.

  • VDAB is the Flemish Employment and Vocational Training Centre, the public employment service for Flanders;
  • Actiris is the public employment service of the Brussels capital region. The name 'Actiris' is a contraction of 'active' and 'iris' (the symbol of the Brussels capital region);
  • Forem is the public employment service for Wallonia and stands for l'office de la formation professionnelle et de l'emploi;
  • ADG is the public employment service for the German Community of Belgium and stands for Arbeitsamt der Deutschsprachigen Gemeinschaft.

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