To tackle the problem of the bottleneck economy, the labour markets in Belgium must expand to include workers over 50. The VDAB project Together into the breach for 50+ initially extends the availability of employment counselling from 50 to 52 and subsequently from 50 to 55 years of age.
VDAB has requested that the current Flemish Economic and Social Consultation Committee extend its agreement, Flemish Government and Flemish Social Partners, to include extensive advice and support for those over the age of 50.
The newest crisis to surface in Belgium is the bottleneck economy. This problem is linked to an ageing population and a shrinking pool of those still working. Older workers, individuals with a foreign background, people with disabilities and single parents need to be better integrated into the labour market. However, the steps that can be taken to minimise the existing shortages are time-consuming and are not able to remedy the situation in Flanders quickly enough.
Despite obstacles, it is possible to fill the obvious gaps in the Belgian labour markets. Encouragement for regional mobility, including the incorporation of language courses, can help to capitalise on the existing potential in the best way possible. Taking steps to improve the transition between education and employment is also crucially important, particularly in view of the 20 % drop-out rate in secondary schools. Possible solutions include giving students the opportunity to choose the focus of their education on the basis of their interests and not allowing them to choose whether to continue in school at an early stage.
The necessary resources for the initiative to provide counselling to older workers are provided under the Employment and Investment Plan (WIP). VDAB will be able to call on its partners to assist with job searches, ‘speed dating’ between potential employers and employees and job coaching. Most advice and support will focus on competences and training, in particular through the provision of shorter courses geared to the specific needs of the target group.