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Labour shortages reach 15-year high

Photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash

While the pace of hiring is expected to pick up over the summer, 83% of employers are finding it difficult to fill their vacancies, ManpowerGroup said on Tuesday.

The coronavirus pandemic has pushed talent shortages to levels not seen in 15 years in all three regions of Belgium.

“Under the effect of digitalisation, the Covid-19 crisis has accentuated the polarisation of the workforce, with highly qualified candidates with the (digital) skills that are highly sought after by companies on one hand, and profiles that do not have sufficient technical (hard skills) or personal (soft skills) skills on the other hand,” said Philippe Lacroix, managing director of ManpowerGroup BeLux.

While job creation levels are high and employers say they’re eager to bring on new workers, 83% of Belgian employers say they’re having difficulty filling vacancies, according to the results of ManpowerGroup’s research.

They say the hiring intentions of Belgian employers are “encouraging” for the summer months: 25% of the 567 employers surveyed at the end of April plan to increase their workforce by the end of September, while 11% plan to reduce it.

And the Net Employment Outlook (the difference between the percentage of employers anticipating hires and those anticipating layoffs) stands at an “optimistic” +13%, up for the fourth consecutive quarter.

Job creation is expected in all the sectors surveyed (with the exception of hospitality, where nearly one in five employers plans to lay off staff by the end of September) and growth is expected to be strong in all three regions this summer: +17% in Wallonia, +16% in Brussels (the strongest forecast in over two years) and +11% in Flanders.

But talent shortages, on the other hand, are at a 15-year high.

The 83% of Belgian employers who are experiencing difficulties filling vacancies represent an increase of 24 points compared to 2019, and the phenomenon affects all three regions of the country.

“There is an urgent need in the labour market to increase the activity rate of the workforce in Belgium (20-64 years),” said Lacroix.

“Without a better activation policy for jobseekers and an improvement in education and training, companies will continue to find it difficult to fill their positions, which could jeopardise the long-awaited recovery.”

The Brussels Times