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The areas of responsibility for general labour market policy are spread over various levels of government. The federal level is responsible as part of its labour market policy for working conditions, collective wage agreements, equality of opportunity and wage guarantees as well as naturally all aspects of conciliation of the social partners. The payments of pensions and unemployment benefits are matters for the social insurances and likewise lie completely within the area of responsibility of the federal authorities.
Also the three regions and communities exercise areas of responsibility in the area of labour market policy. These are predominantly in the area of employment services and vocational training. The responsible authorities of the regions and communities are in addition carrying out actions to promote and create work and vocational training places and are also responsible for issuing work permits.
In the German-speaking Community
In 2000 the Walloon region transferred certain responsibilities within the labour market policy to the German-speaking Community, among them professional basic and advanced training, employment services, qualification measures or vocational guidance. Since this transfer supply and demand can be better tailored to the specific labour market.
Since 1 January 2000 after the transfer of the area of responsibility laid down by Article 139 of the Constitution by the Walloon region, the German-Speaking Community has authority for employment policy.
- Finding employment for and vocational guidance of job-seekers
Following the aforementioned transfer of responsibility, the decree for the creation of a job centre (Dekret zur Schaffung eines Arbeitsamtes in der DG) was passed enabling the creation of a job centre of the German-speaking Community (Arbeitsamt der DG). The corresponding structures in the other parts of Belgium are Le Forem for French-speaking Belgium, VDAB for Flemish-speaking Belgium and Actiris for Brussels. The job centre of the German-speaking Community and some private temporary employment agencies find employment for workers in the German-speaking Community, promotion of employment being one of the three main tasks of the Job centre. The other two are the organisation of vocational training and vocational guidance.
The employment activity of the job centre covers:
- general job placement,
- placement of difficult-to-place persons,
- placement in temporary employment contracts,
- placement in job creation measures,
- placement of workers not from the EU economic area.
The placement activity is wide-ranging. It includes
- establishing direct contact between employers and the unemployed or job-seekers.
- vocational guidance,
- careers advice,
- identifying vocational aptitude,
- labour market guidance,
- labour market and careers research,
- retraining and basic and advanced professional training courses.
- Work permits for non-EU citizens
The federal authorities are responsible for monitoring the compliance with standards applicable in the employment of foreign workers. Regional civil servants may, if they are authorised to do so, identify breaches of the standards.
Since 1 January 2000 the German-speaking Community is authorised to issue company employment authorisations and personal work permits for citizens who are not from the EU economic area.
As of 1 January 2019, the EU Directive 2011/98/EU entered into force. The directive introduced a common procedure to apply for a combined permission both to reside and to work in a member state.
- Job creation measures and employment aid
The job creation programme is in general directed towards fully compensated unemployed and equivalent persons. In Belgium job creation measures with financial incentives for employers are financed by the federal, regional and community authorities.
Since 1 January 2000 the German-Speaking Community manages a range of job creation measures, among them:
- Subsidised contract employees (BVA),
- Inter-ministerial budget fund (IHF),
- Professional transitional programme (BÜP),
- Activation of the unemployment benefit,
- Employment of persons on a subsistence level income.
- Training programme for job-seekers
- Solidarity economy
- Professional integration for people with disabilities
On 1 January 2019, the Aktif (Plus) Employment Promotion (Aktif-(Plus) Beschäftigungsförderung) entered into force, following the passing of the according decree on 28 May 2018. It is an employment program of the German-speaking Community of Belgium in order to fight unemployment and to support employment. Basically, when an employer hires a person who is disadvantaged on the labour market, he can get financial support. In order to simplify the system, several of the previously existing support mechanisms have been discontinued since then, among them the above mentioned BVA, the IHF and part of the LSS reductions.
Part of the Aktif (Plus) Employment Promotion targets specifically young people (up to the age of 25 years), as mentioned explicitly in Art. 4 of the decree.
Effects of the 6th state reform in the employment area
On 1 July 2014 the 6th state reform entered into force. This resulted in among other things various employment measures going from the Federal State to the regions. After a transition period, since 1 April 2015 the regions exercise the administration of the following measures:
- paid educational leave: It offers workers the opportunity to follow various recognised off-the-job further training courses. During the further training the workers continue to receive their salary. After the further training the employer can submit a request to the Ministry of the German-speaking Community for reimbursement. Since 1/1/2016 the specialist area for training and teaching organisation of the Ministry of the German-speaking Community is responsible: www.dglive.be
- Target group reduction for tutors: An employer who enables a young person to have professional training or an internship may apply for a reduction of the employer contributions to the social security (LSS reduction).
- Training fund services vouchers: Recognised service voucher companies can have the costs of the further training of the service voucher company workers reimbursed.
- vocational experience fund: This fund enables the employer to adapt the quality of the job to the needs of his worker. The worker must be at least 45 years old.
For citizens and businesses in the German-speaking Community this means that since 1 April 2015 the Walloon FOREM is responsible for applications and file administration for these four measures.
Ministry of the German-speaking Community
The Ministry of the German-speaking Community is responsible for:
- job creation measures (ABM): these aim to enable the long-term unemployed and welfare recipients to have a regulated employment. With subsidies towards the wage costs to associations and authorities who carry out additional recruitment as part of projects of benefit to society as a whole, the German-speaking Community contributes in a targeted way to the increase in the employment volume. After the transfer of the employment competence to the German-speaking Community in 2000 the existing ABM were fundamentally reformed to meet the needs of the local labour market in the best possible way.
- work and employment permits: since 1 January 2000 the German-speaking Community has been responsible for granting work and employment permits in favour of foreign workers and local businesses. In principle, to employ a foreign worker, a work or employment is needed.
- The self-employed card for foreign self-employed persons: if a foreigner wishes to exercise self-employment in Belgium, he needs a so-called self-employment card (Berufskarte).
- temporary work and private agencies
Social and solidarity economy
In the area of social economy the German-speaking Community supports projects for the social and professional integration of persons who have great difficulties in finding a job on the first labour market.
The social economic initiatives offer their target groups adapted training courses, jobs and intensive social and educational support.
The fields of activity of these projects go from environmental protection to recycling and furniture restoration and organic farming. Others deal with the practice of general trade or artistic skills. And other providers in turn work for their fellow human beings through services in the immediate vicinity.
In 2007 the restructured socio-professional integration path of the DG was presented. This provides for the possibility of a step by step integration or reintegration into working life for persons who need particular support with their socio-vocational integration. In terms of this there is one recognised “preparation-for-work programme” in the north and one in the south of the DG.
The preparation-for-work programmes aim in the first instance to stabilise the target audience on a psycho-social level and thus prepare them for possible later work. The preparation-for-work programme also serves to teach basic social skills.
The integration projects represent the next stage in this integration path. Here too one project is recognised in the north and one in the Eifel. The participants in an integration project also benefit from job training - practical as well as theoretical.
The recognised preparation-for-work programmes and integration projects are funded by the European Social Fund (ESF).
The DG Job Centre
The Job Centre of the German-speaking Community (Arbeitsamt der DG), a para-communitarian institution, administers an independent system and an autonomous budget for the support of the citizens and companies in the area of job placement and vocational training. In individual consultations the service for vocational guidance provides help with decision making in the choice of a profession, training or degree course. This service has a comprehensive stock of information about the world of work and business. Of particular interest to job-seekers, pupils, school leavers and parents.
The centre for the early support of healthy physical, mental and social development of children and young people, KALEIDO for short, advises young people and parents among other things on the transition from school to training or into the world of work. In the German-speaking Community there are four hubs in Bütgenbach, Kelmis, Eupen and Sankt Vith.
Department for Self-determined Living
The vocational development of people with a physical or mental disability is often a challenge. The experts of the Department for Self-determined Living (DSL - Dienststelle für Selbstbestimmtes Leben) are familiar with the particular requirements and help in the search for suitable provision.
Institute for basic and further training in SMEs, in small and medium-sized enterprises (IAWM)
The apprentice secretaries of the IAWM (Institut für Aus- und Weiterbildung im Mittelstand) give information among other things on skilled trades, admission requirements, on specialist and general teaching in the centres for basic and further training in SMEs (ZAWM - Zentrum für Aus- und Weiterbildung im Mittelstand) or via vacant apprenticeship places.
Youth information centres
Alongside the facilities already mentioned, of course the youth information centres also provide information on vocational guidance. Anyone who would like to change careers by further training can obtain advice from the DG further training service.
School and Business study group
Also the School and Business study group (Studienkreis Schule & Wirtschaft) keeps offering children and young people the opportunity to get to know the world of work better.
The East Belgium Business Development Agency (BDA)
As a non-profit organisation (NPO) the BDA (WFG - Wirtschaftsförderungsgesellschaft Ostbelgiens) has the aim of developing East Belgium into an ideal competitive location for industry, commerce and trade. This is done in cooperation with the various partners. The BDA initiates, coordinates and supports numerous business projects. The BDA promotes local companies, helps outside companies to establish themselves and supports start-ups in their projects.
ESC - Economic and Social Council
The Economic and Social Council (WSR - Wirtschafts- und Sozialrat) is the consultation body of the social partners in the German-speaking Community of Belgium. Here representatives of the workers and employers examine together the development of the work and training market within the German-speaking Community and propose improvements in the labour market, economic and social policy.