Coronavirus has scrapped over 100,000 student jobs in Belgium
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Coronavirus has scrapped over 100,000 student jobs in Belgium

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More than a 100,000 student jobs in Belgium have disappeared since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, new figures by the national social security office (ONSS) show.

A report on the state of the job market in the second quarter of 2020 shows that the number of student work contracts had plummeted by 33% in comparison to the same period last year.

The figure accounts for the disappearance of 125,000 student jobs that have been given the axe amid the string of closures, downsizing or bankruptcies spurred by the coronavirus pandemic.

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The loss in employment is the most dramatic for student workers in the cultural, artistic or leisure sector (-68%), followed by those working in communications (-54%) or in the horeca sector (bars, cafés or restaurants) (-48%).

But in absolute numbers, the ONSS report shows that it is the administrative and support sector, which relies heavily on outsourcing companies, which registered the most striking losses (-56,000 jobs) followed by the horeca sector (41,000).

Small student jobs have been hit the hardest, the ONSS said, citing a more levelled drop in the number of total hours worked, which declined by 25%, with the steepest decline registered by the horeca sector (3.1 million hours less).

Conversely, the crisis’ impact on the job market led to a rise in demand for work in farm and field, where it ballooned by 72%, as employers turned massively recruited students to make up for labour shortages linked to the border closures brought on by the pandemic.

As burnout and understaffing ravaged health care and social services workforces, the sectors also increased recruitment by 27% and turned massively to students for support in both medical and non-medical tasks.

Among health care workers collectives, the recruitment of students under volunteer or internship contracts caused outrage as they denounced authorities and hospitals’ willingness to turn to at times unpaid work to make up for a lack of qualified and available staff.

Gabriela Galindo
The Brussels Times