Are current affairs in the north and south of the country viewed differently? We try to answer this question in our extensive chronicle by Alain Narinx (L’Echo) and Wim Van de Velden (De Tijd).
Promises are binding on those who believe them. The De Croo government aims for an employment rate of 80 percent by 2030. Today it stands at about 71 percent. Job creation is the ‘holy grail’ of all governments. It is undeniably a laudable goal, but is it attainable? I feel like the bar is set high. Between and the end of the decade, more than 600,000 jobs are to be created today. That is not impossible. Success will largely diminish from what is happening in Wallonia and Brussels. The employment rate there is lower than in Flanders. That is why labor market policy is a competence.
Why has it come to this? How can we create new jobs? I’ll give you some food for thought.
Employment in Brussels and Wallonia will not increase until the level of French-speaking education is raised. Young people need to be educated. More and better. general. Lifetime. Abroad, plans to introduce more work-based learning – partly in school and partly in the workplace – have proven their success. Today, almost half of the Walloon unemployed have no secondary education diploma. Fewer nine out of ten job seekers in Brussels are exclusively French. Wim, you certainly remember the mantra Charles Michel (MR): ‘Jobs, jobs, jobs.’ Well, if I were in charge, it would sound like this: “Education, education, education.”
We need to develop a culture of entrepreneurship. Dare, start up, fail, start over, succeed, grow… The support measures for start-ups were often inadequate, and sometimes they were viewed with a skewed view. The mindset has changed, but there is no room for improvement.
An element that is still being translated as an explanation for unemployment in Wallonia and Brussels is undeclared work.
An element that is still being translated as an explanation for unemployment in Wallonia and Brussels is undeclared work. There are no figures that accurately map this phenomenon. However, here and there some studies were carried out into the ‘informal economy’ in Belgium. The National Bank estimated them at 4 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) in 2017, and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) at 15 percent of GDP in 2018. All I can say is that not all French-speaking unemployed people spend all day playing on their PlayStation…
An employment rate of 80 percent certainty that social security will remain, especially pensions. But we also need to think about how those jobs will be created. If that happens with the help of public money, it will have a huge budgetary impact. Moreover, the positive impact on social security will be much smaller in that case. So be careful with cuts in social security contributions.
I am not in favor of punishing the unemployed.
I am not in favor of punishing the unemployed, for example by reducing their benefits from decreasing. By having a Walloon stamper make 100 euros per less, he is no longer suitable for the conditions of the labor market. On the contrary, the Walloon Minister of Economy Willy Borsus (MR) proposes a training premium of 2,000 euros for those who want to switch to a shortage profession. I think that’s a great idea.
The employment rate of 80 percent will also not be achieved if targeted policy measures are not taken to ‘lead the workforce back to the workplace’. I am thinking, for example, of the non-European inhabitants. Their employment rate in Wallonia is even below 30 percent! Another group is the long-term ones, who become more and more exported.
As you can see, Wim, the French speakers know only too well what to expect. What suggestions do you have to boost employment? Should we also split unemployment benefits, wages and work regulations?