Those who have become unemployed during the coronavirus crisis will be offered the chance to undergo paid nursing training, Health Minister Maggie De Block announced.
“We will offer the possibility to people who have lost their jobs during the corona (sic) crisis to retrain as nurses, free of charge,” De Block said, adding: “They will be paid while they are undergoing training.”
The scheme is part of a larger employment program, called Formation 600, which already offers free nursing training to hospital staff, including those who are not medically trained, such as administrative employees.
The project would see a wave of fresh recruits boost the thinning ranks of the nursing sector, where De Block said there are currently around 5,000 job openings.
“We not only want to clap every night to thank health care personnel,” she said. “We also want to pave the way, as much as possible, for increased manpower on the ground.”
The news comes as a survey of thousands of Belgian companies by a government expert group revealed that the economic impact of the crisis could put nearly 200,000 jobs on the line.
De Block is currently facing a wave of criticism from nursing unions over two royal decrees aiming to prepare the health care system for a potential surge in hospitalisations as the government moved to reopen businesses and reawaken the economy.
Nurses on Friday said they were “outraged” at one of the two decrees, which aimed to allow unqualified health workers to deliver nursing care.
On Monday, the federal health minister said she will bring the proposal before nursing unions.