Flemish resilience - are investments helping the Flemish labour market ?

Flemish resilience - are investments helping the Flemish labour market ?

The Flemish Government released 4.3 billion euros in 2020 for its 'Flemish resilience' relaunch plan. That plan should help strengthen Flemish prosperity and well-being after the corona crisis. The relance plan is divided into seven ambitions or spearheads: 

  1. making the economy and society more sustainable
  2. investing in infrastructure
  3. transform Flanders digitally
  4. invest in people and talents
  5. strengthen the Flemish care and welfare system
  6. manage the corona crisis and Brexit
  7. make government more efficient

So one of these spearheads is strengthening human capital by investing even more in qualitative education, lifelong learning and a clinging activation policy of both inactive and unemployed people. If Flanders wants to live up to its ambition of becoming a top European region, more people need to work. Flanders' ambition is therefore to raise the employment rate from 75% to 80%.

For this spearhead, IDEA Consult examined the current state of the Flemish labour market. This is done on the basis of various labour market-related key indicators. The following conclusions were drawn in this study:

  • Labour productivity in the Flemish region increased in 2021 compared to 2020, and is estimated to increase further in 2022 as well
  • In the Flemish region, the retirement age among men increased slightly in 2021 compared to 2019, while it remained the same among women.
  • The career length among women in the private sector did increase in 2021 compared to 2020 and there is also a clear positive evolution compared to 2017 from an average of 36 to 37.1 years. On the contrary, career length among men decreased in 2021 compared to 2020, and is also lower than in 2017, from an average of 45 to 44.4 years.
  • Strong increase in the number of people in disability in Flanders; in 2022 (provisional figures), the total number is estimated to be more than 50'000 higher than in 2018.
  • The employment rate of 20-64-year-olds was 75.9% in Flanders in the last quarter of 2021, compared to 71.4% in Belgium and 73.1% in the EU-27.

However, areas of concern are the inclusiveness of employment growth and the health and sustainability of growth (cf. number of disabled people). The current energy crisis and rising inflation will also affect the evolution of the employment rate. However, structural challenge for the period up to 2030 remains a sufficiently ample and suitable labour supply, given:

  • Total additional job demand as a result of the Flemish Resilience Programme (direct+indirect) is estimated at 40,740 or 7.5% of total recruitment demand in the period 2022-2030. This is more than the current projected expansion need for 2022-2030 (30'240).
  • By 2030, the total recruitment need (sector projections) together with the demand of Flemish Resilience, will be 544'740. This is a 18.9% compared to the current number of employees in Flanders (2'888'600 in 2021).
  • Most of this recruitment demand is replacement demand, The percentage of replacement demand averages 94% of the total recruitment demand over the period 2022-2030. This outflow comes from job mobility, ageing, unemployment or inactivity, migration, mortality, or the transition to self-employment, among others.

Sectors requiring specific attention are healthcare, construction, IT, business services and transport.

Want to learn more about the labour market study for Flemish resilience? On Tuesday 25 October, the Department of Chancellery and Foreign Affairs is organising a network day on policy research and evaluation in collaboration with the Department of economy science & innovation and the Department of Environment. The central theme is about how the Flemish government acts as a knowledge authority. The network day is mainly intended for policy or staff employees or managers of the Flemish government who are involved in policy research and/or evaluation.