The 317 companies that do business in and around Brussels Airport recruit thousands of people in a wide variety of fields. So, one could be mistaken that this would be a job-rich area for some of the 85,000 citizens of Brussels who are looking for work?
In principle yes, it should be, but evidence shows that jobseekers from the capital are not always a good match for those employers looking for staff in Zaventem, despite the proximity to the area.
"It is really difficult to match the Brussels profiles to jobs,” explains Isabelle Borli, General Manager of Aviato, the airport's employment centre overseen by Actiris and the VDAB. “The first reason is the language. More precisely, it is the predisposition to study a language or the desire to study a language."
The linguistic shortcomings of the people of Brussels are one of the major obstacles to getting work at the airport. Knowing Dutch, or being in the process of learning it, as well as having a good level of English are prerequisites for getting hired at the airport – for all types of jobs.
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Even though connections to the airport from the city have improved in recent years and more options now exist than ever before, the second obstacle to hiring Brussels residents is mobility.
"Brussels applicants often do not have a driver's licence or vehicles,” says Borli. “And there is not always public transport in the requested hours. And finally, there is flexibility – or the lack of it. Asking candidates to work on weekends, holidays, at night… It’s not always obvious to them that this is important."
But companies today have little choice but to turn to Brussels. There are fewer jobseekers in Flemish Brabant. "And so, we have to go and get them where they are and Brussels is an opportunity,” Borli continues. “However, there’s a lot that is needed to bring these people from one level of qualification to the desired level of competence needed for the activity of the airport, in particular extensive training.”
Only 16% of all posts in the airport area are taken up by Brussels residents compared to 40% from the Flemish Brabant.