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An analysis of the job market
The Economic and Social Council (Wirtschafts- und Sozialrat, WSR) has already been conducting an evaluation of the job adverts in the local press since 2001. This evaluation should shed light on what occupational categories are being sought at which location and what the job specifications for the potential applicants are. Only those job offers that can be clearly allocated to an employment subject to social security contributions at an employer’s are collected. However, employers often place ads simultaneously in all three newspapers. These identical ads are however not evaluated several times. The procedure used by the Economic and Social Council enables a variety of criteria on the situations vacant to be evaluated. The outcomes of this evaluation are being integrated into the Economic and Social Report (Wirtschafts- und Sozialbericht) which is published by the Economic and Social Council on a yearly basis.
Having a labour shortage at the same time as high unemployment seems paradoxical. However, the imbalance between supply and demand on the labour market has a great variety of causes – quantitative and qualitative – and is therefore only partially contradictory.
Each year the regional employment services determine a list of the shortage occupations (Mangelberufe), i.e. in which a (quantitative) labour shortage prevails on the regional labour market. Recording occupations in which there is a “skills shortage”, takes place against a background of labour market policy objectives that aim to reduce the imbalance between supply and demand. The method to filter out the shortage occupations involves in principle determining a relationship between the number of job-seekers on the one hand and the number of job vacancies on the other.
In the German-speaking Community occupations for which there are at least 5 vacancies (from the German-speaking Community) in which the vacancy filling rate in the previous year was below the average for all job vacancies and/or in which the time up to the vacancies being filled was above average are considered as shortage occupations. Furthermore, consideration is made of how many job-seekers are registered in the respective occupation groups (potential applicants per job vacancy) and the assessment of the employment agencies and other labour market experts are taken into account.
On the basis of the existing legislation (under certain conditions (duration of unemployment, qualifications etc.) it is possible for unemployed persons to go into school-based training, a degree programme or an SME apprenticeship leading to one of these occupations for which there is a shortage while retaining unemployment benefit.
Based on the list of occupations, a list of training and degree courses will then be drawn up that could be considered for the following school year for this provision. For German speakers it means that a degree course can be started in Belgium or under certain conditions in Germany.
Additionally, securing skilled workers for the German-speaking Community is also a topic dealt with in the "Economic Region" of the Regional Development Concept III (Regionales Entwicklungskonzept III, REK III). In 2018, the "Skilled Workers Alliance East Belgium" (Fachkräftebündnis Ostbelgien) has been created. This alliance is made up of representatives of several institutions such as the Job Center of the German-speaking Community (Arbeitsamt der Deutschsprachigen Gemeinschaft, ADG), the Institute for Training and Further Education of Medium-Sized Businesses (Institut für Aus- und Weiterbildung des Mittelstandes, IAWM) the Economy Development Agency East Belgium (Wirtschaftsförderungsgesellschaft Ostbelgien, WFG), the Economic and Social Council, the Chamber of Commerce and Industry Eupen (Industrie- und Handelskammer Eupen, IHK) as well as the Government of the German-speaking Community (Regierung der Deutschsprachigen Gemeinschaft). It is intended to develop common actions to support and strengthen the securement of skilled workers in the German-speaking Community. To this end, a first employer survey was carried out in late 2018, with another one being carried out as of October 2021. The current survey is intended to record developments to date and any changes in the needs of local companies and to provide the decision-makers represented in the "Skilled Workers Alliance East Belgium" with additional valuable information.