Dutch classes offered by the official Flemish agency for employment are being widely ignored by French-speaking job-seekers, according to Flemish minister for work Hilde Crevits.
In the past two years, only 21 candidates have come forward to take the classes organised by VDAB as a means of improving their job prospects. Crevits was replying to a parliamentary question.
According to the national statistics office Statbel, unemployment in Flanders in the third quarter of 2019 stood at 3.4%, while in Wallonia the rate was 7% and in Brussels 12.6%.
Axel Ronse, who asked Crevits the question, said it was “disappointing” that so few French-speakers took up the offer of VDAB courses. And he called on Crevits to organise a new agreement with VDAB counterparts Forem (Wallonia) and Actiris (Brussels) to address the problem.
He also pointed out that Forem, the Walloon agency for employment, had declined to pass information to the VDAB on how many job-seekers they had directed to Flemish vacancies.
“Transparency concerning the efforts being made seems to me essential, given the context we are dealing with: high unemployment in Wallonia and Brussels compared to a lack of applicants in Flanders,” he said.
He also asked the parliament itself to organise hearings on the subject of cooperation among the different work agencies.
VDAB organises numerous Dutch courses for non-native speakers of various levels, some basic and some more specialised. For job-seekers registered with other agencies, the course fees can often be reimbursed.