The number of people who have been without a job in Flanders for more than two years has remained stagnant over the last five years, new figures show.
While overall unemployment figures have been on the decline over the past five years, figures cited by MP Tom Ongena showed that long-term unemployment in Flanders has proved harder to tackle.
The numbers showed that there were currently 58,550 people who had been unemployed for two years or more, in figures which have consistently remained around the 60,000 mark, De Morgen reports, in what represents a drop of around 3% in five years.
The new figures were included in an annual productivity report which also showed that Belgium had dropped to the next to last position in a productivity ranking and that, despite the unemployment figures, Flanders, in particular, was battling with labour shortages.
“Although the labour shortage is getting bigger, with companies finding it harder and harder to find people, there is a persistent group of around 60,000 job seekers who have been unemployed for more than two years,” Ongena said.
“With four vacancies per job, Flanders has the largest shortage in Europe after the Czech Republic,” he added.
Elderly people and people with a disability make up a large portion of those in longterm unemployment, with up to 41% of the latter being unemployed for more than five years.
Sanctions applied to unemployed people who are not actively looking for a job are also less frequently applied to those in long-term unemployment, the outlet reports.
Ongena said mandatory community service could be an answer to the issue, and help Flanders attain an employment rate of 80%.