In order to meet the increasing demand for healthcare providers, Flanders is looking beyond its borders. Flemish Minister of Welfare and Public Health Jo Vandeurzen (CD&V) wants to call on the VDAB (the public employment service of Flanders) to look for candidates in countries where there is an surplus number of healthcare professionals. These include Luxembourg, France, Spain and Turkey.
The search is one of the priority actions of a new action plan. The VDAB must develop language programmes and ensure a smooth transition, which includes the homoligation of diplomas.
The Union of Nurses and the Christian trade union LBC-NVK consider the search for foreign workers a stopgap solution. “To make this a success, a lot of money will be needed,” a spokesperson says. The LBC-NVK questions the feasibility of the action plan. “We understand the necessity, but does a language immersion course solve the problem? It’s not that easy,” says the union.
The AUVB and LBC-NVK see different, more efficient paths that can be taken. One of them is to encourage young people to take up training in care giving. In concrete terms, for example, they want to introduce 14-year-olds from all educational backgrounds to a care job. In the longer term, this should ensure that enough young people opt for a career in a sector of healthcare.
Over the next ten years, the care sector will have to find 46,000 new care providers each year to replace staff members who retire and to meet the growing needs of an increasingly older population.