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Belgium  [1]  Context of national VET/HRD policies

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Belgium has a long tradition of measures to help people who are at risk of being left behind on the labour market find employment, e.g. the Vilvoorde Flemish Pact and the Walloon Marshall Plan. Four lines of action to create jobs for target groups can be identified:

1. Training. It has been ascertained that not all previous commitments (such as those in the Vilvoorde Flemish Pact and the Walloon Marshall Plan) have been attained. To make up for this lag, training is identified as a central theme in the sectoral negotiations in 2007-2008. Furthermore, the social partners are urging officials responsible for education policy to deploy all means and resources that enable young people to finish their studies with qualifications in order to stem the tide of school leavers without qualifications, with particular emphasis on multilingualism, the promotion of scientific and technological fields of study, and efficient cooperation between education and the business world. 

Belgium will implement lifelong learning strategies. This includes improving the quality and efficiency of education and training systems, in order to equip all individuals with the skills required for a modern workforce in a knowledge-based society, to facilitate their career development and to reduce skills mismatch and bottlenecks in the labour market. 

2. Innovation. Various studies have exposed obstacles to the Belgian innovation system: its concentration in a few companies or groups of companies, the cost of specialists, the lack of dissemination of knowledge between companies, etc. The social partners share this analysis. The Central Economic Council monitors the efforts of the sectors and the problems they encounter, and measures are taken on the basis of this report. One weak point, however, is that there is no mention of modernising the labour market. 

3. Diversity and higher employment rates for ‘target groups’. The efforts for greater diversity at the workplace are being continued. An agreement on a common awareness raising campaign must be reached in the Interprofessional Agreements (IPA) negotiations. Belgium must have an employment rate of 50 % for older workers (55 to 64) in 2010 (Lisbon summit).

4. Lifelong learning. This is one of the top priorities set by the European employment guidelines. The Belgian authorities, too, acknowledge that lifelong learning is a precondition for the effective employability of employees and jobseekers and for horizontal and vertical mobility on the labour market. The Flemish Government and social partners have made a commitment to increase the number of people aged between 25 and 64 in continuous training from 7.1% in 2001 (EU average 8%) to at least 10% in 2010. 

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Source: Cedefop - National Research Report Belgium (bibliographical details see Reference)
Editor: Sabine Manning  © WIFO