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Employment and entrepreneurship are regulated at the federal level and further supported by the Flemish Region.
Most relevant policy domains are:
At federal level:
- Labour Law and Social Security legislation (Federal Public Service for Employment Labour and Social Dialogue)
- Employment policy and policy on job creation promotion (High Council for Employment - Hoge Raad voor de Werkegelenheid)
At Regional (Flemish) level:
- Employment and social economy policy
- Educational policy
- Youth policy
In the following we focus on the regional level and describe for each of the domains the relevant responsibilities.
Main public bodies
The funding of the Flemish Public Employment Service (VDAB) and Flemish Agency for Entrepreneurial Training (SYNTRA Flanders) is laid down in Flemish Parliament Acts of the Flemish Region.
The funding for the implementation of the Youth Employment Plan (2008) in the context of the Youth Guarantee Plan is made available from the Government of Flanders.
MINISTER IN CHARGE OF EMPLOYMENT AND SOCIAL ECONOMY
The Government of Flanders consists of nine ministers, who are in office for a five-year term. Minister Hilde Crevits (Christian Democratic Party) is currently the Flemish Minister for Work, Economy, Innovation, Social Economy and Argiculture (from 2019 until 2024).
MINISTRY OF WORK AND SOCIAL ECONOMY
The Flemish Ministry of Work and Social Economy and the Department of Work and Social Economy within it are responsible for advice, evaluation, follow-up and coordination on policy regarding work and social economy in Flanders, including youth employment/unemployment.
FLEMISH SERVICE FOR EMPLOYMENT AND VOCATIONAL TRAINING (Vlaamse Dienst voor Arbeidsbemiddeling en Beroepsopleiding, VDAB)
The public employment services are also organised at regional level and are in charge of counselling, job search assistance, intermediation services and training of (un)employed workers.
The Flemish Service for Employment and Vocational Training (Vlaamse Dienst voor Arbeidsbemiddeling en Beroepsopleiding, VDAB) has, as the career director, the mission of creating for all Flemish citizens the space necessary for them to develop themselves and their careers as effectively as possible. The aim is to improve labour market functioning and promote prosperity for all. As a service provider, VDAB helps citizens to develop their careers according to market demand. VDAB cooperates strongly with other service providers and has a special focus on disadvantaged citizens.
As an external autonomous agency VDAB is not directly governed by the Minister of Employment but managed by a governing board. As part of the Flemish authorities, the agency is accountable to the Flemish Government. VDAB is financed by the Government and ministers determine its policy priorities.
The goals and objectives of VDAB for the period 2015-2019 and the accompanying actions for the year 2015 are geared to the European employment strategy, the Flemish Government Agreement 2014-2019, and the Policy Paper on Work, Economics, Science and Innovation 2014-2019. In its annual business plan, which reflects the policy priorities as determined in the annual Policy Brief on Work, VDAB indicates which projects will be elaborated and where the services must be continued, refined and/or adapted.
FLEMISH AGENCY FOR ENTREPRENEURIAL TRAINING - SYNTRA FLANDERS
Since 2004 entrepreneurial training in Flanders has been coordinated by the Flemish Agency for Entrepreneurial Training – SYNTRA Flanders.
SYNTRA Flanders collaborates with several entrepreneurial education and training providers in Flanders, in particular with the five regional SYNTRA Training Centres. These deliver apprenticeship programmes for young people aged 15 to 25. Apprenticeship trainees gain practical experience in a work environment (four days a week) under the guidance of a tutor-supervisor and attend classes, including General Knowledge modules, at one of the Training Centres (one day a week) which complement the practical work experience.
SYNTRA Flanders falls under the responsibility of the Flemish Minister of Work. The assignment of the agency is formalised in an annual business plan, which contains the strategic and operational goals of the agency.
MINISTER IN CHARGE OF EDUCATION AND TRAINING
Minister Ben Weyts (The New Flemish Alliance (N-VA)) is since 2 October 2019 the Flemish Minister for Education and Training (from 2019 until 2024).
MINISTRY OF EDUCATION AND TRAINING
The Department of Education and Training together with the Minister in charge of Education and Training is responsible for the advice, evaluation and follow-up on education policy in Flanders.
MINISTER IN CHARGE OF YOUTH
Minister Benjamin Dalle (Christen Democratic Party (CD&V) is since 2 October 2019 the Flemish Minister for Brussels Affairs, Youth and Media (from 2019 until 2024). Culture is a policy domain of the Minister-president Jan Jambon (The New Flemish Alliance (N-VA)) (From 2019-2024).
Minister Benjamin Dalle is the coordinating minister for the Flemish Youth and Children’s Rights Policy Plan.
MINISTRY OF CULTURE, YOUTH AND MEDIA
The ‘Knowledge and Policy’ – embedded in the Department of Culture, Youth and Media – ensures the administrative follow-up of the Flemish policy on youth and children’s rights and is responsible for the coordination of a horizontal Youth and Children’s Rights Policy Plan (leisure, education, work, equality, etc.).
Main non-public actors
There are three trade union confederations in Belgium, each reflecting a socio-political movement in the country. The two largest are ACV (Algemeen Vakverbond) and ABVV (Algemeen Belgisch Vakverbond), affiliating with the Christian and socialist movements respectively, while the smaller ACLVB (Algemene Centrale der Liberale Vakbonden van België) is rooted in liberalism. Each trade union has departments in the Flemish Community.
The several trade unions in Belgium are responsible for:
- the Representing of employees in wage and collective bargaining in companies and economic sectors
- defending the interests of employees
- the payment of unemployment benefits and the integration allowance
ACV, ABVV and ACLVB use the following youth structures. Each confederation has a specific department or section for youth, with union officers working solely on such issues. In the case of ACV and ABVV, there are two national representatives, for the country’s Dutch- and French-speaking parts respectively. There is also at least one regional youth representative in every province, working rather independently from the national level. This is different in the liberal trade union, which employs three national representatives, one for Brussels (part-time), one for Flanders (full-time) and one for Wallonia (part-time). Youth representatives at the regional level, in contrast, are mostly volunteers who take up this role on top of their normal functions.
REPRESENTATIVES OF YOUNG PEOPLE
The Flemish Youth Council is the official advisory council for the Government of Flanders for all areas concerning children, young people and their organisations in Flanders. The Flemish Youth Council ensures that the voice of children and young people reaches the policymakers and defends the interests of youth work organisations in Flanders and Europe.
The Flemish Ministers must seek the advice of the Flemish Youth Council every time they want to take decisions that have an impact on children and young people. But the Flemish Youth Council also provides advice on its own initiative. In committees, working groups and other meetings, they prepare positions and advice. Each opinion then passes through the advisory council of the Flemish Youth Council, which consists of 16 elected youth and youth work advisers. The advisers deliver the final result to the Flemish government.
In this way, everyone can take into account the wishes and needs of Flemish youth and the interests of youth work. And this with one specific goal: to make policy in our country and far beyond more youth friendly. The Flemish Youth Council is supported by De Ambrassade vzw.
ORGANISATIONS WITH A SPECIAL FOCUS ON YOUNG PEOPLE Many organisations with a special focus on young people are commissioned to set up, support and monitor youth employment and entrepreneurship: the Ambrassade (support centre for youth work and youth information, secretariat of the Flemish Youth Council), nationally organised youth associations, and NGOs in the field of development co-operation.
General distribution of responsibilities
As outlined above, employment and entrepreneurship are regulated at the federal level and further supported by the Flemish Region.
In Flanders, youth employment and entrepreneurship are a joint responsibility of the Flemish Minister of Employment, the Flemish Minister of Education and the Flemish Minister of Youth.
As mentioned in other chapters, youth policy is a transversal policy. It is envisaged that each ministry takes its own responsibilities and defines tasks linked to the implementation of specific goals within the Youth Policy Plan, while the Minister for Youth is in charge of overseeing the process and reporting on the Plan’s implementation to the government.
Besides the Flemish Policy Plan, the Act on Flemish Youth and Children’s Rights Policy envisages three more instruments of youth policy:
- Impact assessment of new legislation on children and youth (JoKER)
- Contact points for youth and children’s rights and a coordinating administration
- Youth Progress Report