Belgian technology sector struggling to recruit with 21,000 vacant jobs
The technology sector in Belgium is facing a recruitment crisis, with 21,000 vacant positions sitting unfilled.
The tech sector has never seen so many vacancies, Bart Steukers, head of the federation of technology companies Agoria, told RTL.
Those 21,000 unfilled jobs represent “a fairly high figure”, Steukers said.
If all those jobs were to be filled, unemployment in Brussels would be reduced by a third.
“There are two reasons why this shortage exists: a positive reason in the sense that we work in an industry that creates a lot of jobs,” Steukers explained.
“In our study carried out a few years ago on the labour market, we always said that technology does not only destroy jobs because for each job that disappears, three new jobs can be created. This is what is happening at the moment.”
The other issue is finding the right candidates.
“There are plenty of choices: there are jobs in digital, cyber-security, around data, but also jobs in the manufacturing industry: machine operators, electromechanics, commercial jobs. There is something for everyone,” said Steukers.
“But you also have to find the people, qualified or not. For the qualified, there are not enough young men and especially women, coming out of STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) courses. That is why we are stimulating these courses so much because they are the best way to find qualified people in our sector.”
Steukers said the sector is one that pays highly, which should make recruitment easy provided there are enough qualified candidates.
“These jobs are very well paid. Digital transformation, green transformation... It is in our sector that these jobs are created, that they are made,” said Steukers.
“And so we need a lot of talent, and also talent that needs to be trained for the job. That's why the debate on career-long learning is so important.”
Other sectors experiencing staff shortage in Belgium are healthcare and education, with teacher shortages especially high in Brussels and Flanders.
I find it really interesting to hear there are so many open jobs in Tech. Are we marketing in the right places? I meet many people that have been out of Tech work for some time, and from my experience they are/were good at what they do. Equally, I meet a lot of people that moved away from Tech to other things as the pressure/hours was too grueling for them.
And then we have to think out-of-the-box. I do work in the tech sector and have a relatively senior role and no tech qualifications at all. I am great with people and dealing with change management, Comms, digital transitions, project management and so on, can be done by folks with transferable skills. Be creative - try new things, give folks a go, bring in some school leavers and support them. You never know. It might just work.
And, possibly you need to create a set of roles with accommodation for internationals to come in and take on projects for one to five years. Or, bring back folks that retired early - entice them.