Belgium’s technology sector is looking to create 22,000 new jobs by 2024, according to Marc Lambotte, CEO of the sector federation Agoria.
The tech sector employed precisely 312,047 people in 2019 – 60% in manufacturing and 40% in services. “We created 20,000 [jobs] in recent years, we can do the same in the years to come,” Lambotte said.
But there are conditions attached. “In the first place, let us get on with it. We’ve shown that we keep our promises. Secondly, let us not take any backward steps. And thirdly, don’t introduce any laws that hamper us in what we do. We are reaching out a hand to all parties, majority and opposition, who really want to work on our welfare.”
However, the industry faces one major obstacle: finding suitable job candidates.
“Job creation is one thing, but finding employees is something else,” he said. “The number of open vacancies has been above 12,000 for three years now. That is a major problem. There are business leaders who have said to me they could double their turnover if only they could fill their vacancies.”
The problem of filling job vacancies requires three actions, he said: companies need to create opportunities for training of their own employees; the government needs to provide the means to direct people into the sector; and finally everyone needs to be open to the possibility of retraining.
Agoria was reporting record turnover in 2019 of €129.4 billion, an increase over 2018 of 1.7%, and the fifth years in a row of growth. Information technologies and the car sector were the main drivers of growth.
For 2019, the federation is aiming for growth of 2.2%. “If all available vacancies were to be filled, that growth could even be two or three percent higher still,” Lambotte said.