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Jobs stimulus plan to support economic recovery of post-corona Flanders

17:00 16/12/2020
From Flanders Today

A plan to help employment in Flanders recover in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic has been agreed by the government, employers’ groups and unions. It will be backed with an additional €190 million in government spending.

Called All Hands on Deck, the plan will have three broad priorities: training and career development, digitisation and sustainable employment. “The various actions are intended to stabilise our employment market, and at the same time make it stronger,” said Flemish labour minister Hilde Crevits.

The government’s ambition is to reach the 80% employment target it set before the pandemic began. At that point, the figure stood at 76%, but it has subsequently fallen due to the crisis.

“It’s now more important than ever that we get as many people as possible to work,” said Jan Jambon, the minister-president of Flanders.

Of the €190 million budget set aside for the plan, €119 million will be directed to training and career development initiatives for jobseekers, the temporarily unemployed and current members of the workforce. Companies will also receive incentives to audit their employees’ skills and provide training. Online training will be expanded, and the existing offer promoted to make sure as many people as possible take advantage of the options available.

For the long-term unemployed, the aim is to get at least half to do a training course, internship or voluntary work, or to take up a temporary job, for example in healthcare. Exactly who falls into this group will be defined by the government and the Flemish employment and training agency, VDAB.

Some €50 million has been earmarked for digitisation, which includes initiatives that ensure people have the digital skills they need to join the workforce, and that digital tools are used as much as possible to support career development and the search for new jobs. Addressing digital exclusion will also be a priority.

Finally, €21 million will go to initiatives ensuring that jobs are sustainable. This means promoting job flexibility, respect for work-life balance and wellbeing, and nurturing entrepreneurship among vulnerable groups.

“This ambitious plan includes measures that can be realised very quickly, improving the short-term situation,” said Crevits. “But other actions are also aimed at the medium or even longer term, so that we can sustainably transform the Flemish labour market, make it more resilient and prepare it for the future.”

Photo ©Getty Images

Written by Ian Mundell (Flanders Today)