Following the severe flooding that hit the Walloon Region in July 2021 with 209 out of its 262 communes affected, the distribution of the budget allocated to the Walloon recovery plan had to be modified: EUR 737.706.000 are now granted to support the rebuilding and resilience of disaster-affected areas.

Although the construction sector accounts for almost 13% of salaried jobs in Wallonia, it has been suffering from a shortage of qualified labour for several years. The floods that particularly affected Wallonia last summer caused an explosion in demand for all of the sector’s professions: the Confédération Construction Wallonne (CCW) therefore estimates that there are 10 000 vacancies to be filled for the implementation of the recovery and rebuilding plan. The challenge is colossal for the construction, wood and electrical engineering sectors, which are struggling to recruit enough workforce.

Walloon Government approves various support measures

In response to this emergency, the Walloon Government adopted in September 2021 some 20 measures and actions to enable the construction, wood and electrical engineering sectors to find suitable candidates, including:

The last two incentives are managed by the FOREM and the Walloon Institute for dual training and self-employment in small and medium-sized enterprises (IFAPME).

Boosting dual education in the construction, wood and electrical engineering sectors

In September 2021, the IFAPME, in partnership with the CCW, also put in place several measures for the construction, wood and electrical engineering sectors to attract more candidates and meet the demands of the job market, including:

  • free tuition (no fees) for young people, with enrolment fees refunded for adults who undertake dual education in one of the professions included in Wallonia’s sustainable rebuilding plan;
  • an EUR 100 increase in the monthly wage of learners on apprenticeship contracts or training agreements on a voluntary basis by companies;
  • the modularisation and certification of training programmes: after each year of training, learners can obtain a certificate demonstrating that the skills acquired have been mastered. Upon completion of the full training programme, an IFAPME-accredited diploma is awarded;
  • increased support for dual learners by strengthening the IFAPME mentor support programme.

A promotional campaign called ‘I’m building my future’ was also launched on social media to raise awareness among young people and women in particular of these professions for the future.

Training programmes with strong potential

The aim of these measures is to ‘rehabilitate’ the image of a sector by emphasising its dynamic nature and ability to innovate; this is achieved by demonstrating the sector’s potential for adapting to technological challenges and to changes in the energy sector, with a view to integrating sustainable development.

These training programmes also offer promising employment prospects: according to a study carried out in 2020 by IFAPME, 6 months after receiving their diploma following a construction sector training programme at IFAPME, 84% of learners over 15 years of age and more than 92% of adult trainees had found a job in construction.

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Please cite this news item as: ReferNet Belgium; Cedefop (2022). Belgium: Wallonia boosts dual training in construction sector. National news on VET

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