The current influx of refugees should boost working-age population growth. “The Belgian economy can benefit from this group’s skills,” notes the Higher Employment Council in its annual report published on Thursday in Brussels.
Global population is still growing in Belgium but not the number people of working age (aged 15-64). The arrival of migrants could reverse this trend. The Council is calling for authorities to consolidate the policies set up to integrate newcomers in the labour market, “as our ability to recruit non-European immigrants already present in Belgium is notoriously inadequate.” The difference between employment rates for citizens (68.6%) and non-EU immigrants (40.5%) in Belgium is one of the highest in the EU, notes the Council.
The presentation of the annual report in the presence of Kris Peeters, Deputy Prime Minister and Employment Minister, gave Marcia De Wachter, Director of the National Bank of Belgium and Vice-Chairperson of the Council, an opportunity to make a series of recommendations.
She mentioned the dropout rate, which, although it has been decreasing since 2011, remains higher in Belgium (9.8%) than in other European countries. The Council insists more work should be done to improve this situation and solutions must be found to give dropouts a second chance.
The Council also approves of measures taken by the current and former governments to help businesses be competitive by lowering labour costs. With regards the tax-shift, the Council hopes to maintain benefit for the lower tier and for part-time workers.