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Belgium  [7]  Review of VET/HRD research

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Current VET/HRD research

The increase of the knowledge-based economy has its effect on a lot of educational developments, on educational research and on Human Research Development. With the growing importance of lifelong learning, learning is no longer a characteristic of the preparatory phase of economic and social independence as it used to be in the industrial era. Research is also no longer the privileged field of educational institutions. Working and learning are covering more and more each other's working fields. 

Governmental organisations and ministries have their own research institutions. Policy institutions are working closer than before with universities and high schools. Those institutions are also becoming more and more research institutions. The challenge for those institutions is to provide answers to the learning questions, arising differently in the dynamic world of labour, in the world of labour organisations and in the world of the labour market. Especially the development of the information technology brings about a large acceleration in the accessibility of knowledge and in the possibilities for innovation. 

Educational research in Belgium stands for new challenges : 1) it has to change its perspectives towards those urgent questions coming from the field of the labour market and 2) if it wants to support learning entirely as seen by the labour market, it has to be flexible with regard to its perspective of learning. Belgium like other member states of the European Union is adapting its research permanently . Due to a rapidly changing social and technological society, permanent re-generating and updating of knowledge is more than necessary. 

Lifelong learning for "trained" employees as a result of research in Belgium is posing at the same time the question if there will be a further need of early retirement of "older" employees. The Belgian adapted social plans,  which include a diminished social contribution for older and experienced employees, should make it possible to continue further use of their coaching for younger employees. The goal of research for unemployed people in Belgium is to lead these target groups via appropriate training towards the so-called chance group professions, former known as bottleneck professions.

Future VET/HRD research

The following issues are important for Belgium: combating the rate of unemployment in general and especially for the chance groups or target groups (one minus point is a weak employment degree). There is already research and development for these target groups going on (see the selection of projects/ actions for combating long term unemployment ). Flanders is a medium-sized entity concerning prosperity and economic growth with a high labour productivity, a relatively low unemployment and a large presence of intensive services. The Walloon and the Brussels capital region have a lower economic growth than the Flemish region.The employment rate for the Brussels capital region has increased since last year.

Studies show that diversity plan are doing very well in Belgium. More and more companies and organisations have been interested in a tailored diversity plan In exchange of subsidies and accompanimentand the implementation of such a plan, companies can engage themselves concrete promises concerning more diversity on the floor.

On the other hand there is the issue of innovation that has been examined and that needs further research and development. Innovation starts with education. Flanders has a high grade of high schooled people and is scoring well concerning lifelong learning for these high schooled people . They are not searching for jobs in strong economical sectors. Despite the fact that three quarters of investments from companies have the destination for training and development, there is a demand for several sectors in Belgium to diminish the gap between secondary education skills and skills needed for the labour market. The ministers of education are preparing new restructuring measures to reduce this gap. 

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