Those who leave school are finding their way onto the labour market the fastest in a decade, according to a report by Flemish employment service VDAB.
Out of 64,000 young people who left their secondary school, college, or university, only 6.6% or 4,213 graduates were still looking for a job one year later. Those numbers date from 2020, amidst the Covid-19 crisis.
That figure is the lowest in the past ten years, while in 2021 the jobseeker percentage was still relatively low at 10%, indicating that graduates been able to easily find employment during the Covid-19 pandemic.
For those who enter the labour market from secondary education, 8% of graduates were still seeking a job after one year, while that figure drops to 2% with a higher education diploma.
Of those studying healthcare, barely 1% of high-skilled care diplomas did not manage to find a job within a year.
- Students increasingly getting jobs outside usual holiday periods
- Labour shortages increase to 141 sectors in Wallonia
- Flanders employment programme targets youth not in work or education
Leaving school without a diploma evidently decreases a school leaver’s chances in the labour market, as almost a quarter (23%) is still without a job after one year. “A diploma is an entry ticket to the labour market. School leavers without a diploma have the fewest opportunities,” says Lindsey Marin of the VDAB study service.
Girls have scored better than boys, as barely 5% of girls who left school were still looking for a job after a year, compared to 8% of the boys.
This can be partially explained by the fact that there are more girls in healthcare and education, where the labour market is very tight. In addition, two in three school leavers without a diploma are boys, which reduces their chances.
According to the Flemish Minister of Work, Jo Brouns, the figures illustrate that a diploma is the most important thing and offers the greatest chance of obtaining a sustainable job.
She warns young people not to be tempted too quickly by the labour market: “The war on talent can also be a pitfall, by choosing to make money quickly. Finish school first.” She also suggested young people to opt for training in care.
The data matches other trends on the labour market, as unemployment rates continue to drop. Meanwhile, job vacancies cannot be filled because there is a high demand for educated employees and language barriers are a main obstacle for people to access the Belgian labour market.
In order to close the gap on the labour market, Flanders is investing in a programme targeting youth who are not working nor following education to provide them with appropriate assistance.