More than one in ten Walloon companies risk having to halt their activities due to the energy crisis, a study by the Free University of Brussels (ULB) concluded on Thursday.
Companies in Wallonia are especially vulnerable to the crisis because around 20% are unable to cope with the growing labour shortage in the country. The university highlights the need for a “rapid and adequate” response from the public authorities in Wallonia.
The study, conducted in partnership with the Walloon Business Union and its 300 member companies, shows that energy is a huge cause for concern among more than half the respondents. One in three would be strongly affected by the impact of a gas supply disruption, 20% would substantially slow down their activity, and 13% would risk having to stop business entirely.
However, less than half the companies say that they have taken any action to prepare for the scarcity of resources, nor have they prepared for the threats of cybercrime or climate change. Only 32% of Walloon companies indicated that they have reduced energy consumption or invested in green energy.
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Wallonia’s growing labour shortage is fuelling the insecurity of Walloon companies. The shortage is considered “out of control” or "almost out of control" by 20% of the companies surveyed. Companies lack qualified personnel, including technical profiles.
The weakness of the human resources situation for many companies in the region means that they are unable to affectable prepare for crises, the study notes. ULB therefore hopes that the Walloon government will enforce “strong gestures” to encourage businesses to plan for any eventuality, as well as to further open up the labour market.
“To support (these businesses) it is essential that the public authorities take concrete measures to help companies, such as support for companies to assess the vulnerabilities of their economic model,” explains Marek Hudon, ULB professor and head of the research team. “The smallest businesses are the most vulnerable and often the least prepared.”