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3 ways the Belgian job market is inspiring optimism
Watching the news one would almost start to think that we are close to a new economic winter. Headlines, blogs and news programs are dominated by lay-offs of personnel and companies that are closing.
It’s therefore no surprise that many employees and job seekers have slightly less confidence in the labour market than before. PageGroup’s quarterly Job Confidence Index shows that candidates between the ages of 30 and 50 are less positive about the current economic situation than they were three months ago. Only 51% is positive about the job market.
But there are many reasons to be more optimistic than the daily news suggests. These are the 3 most important ones:
1. The number of job positions in Belgium is in reality increasing.
“Actually the job market at the moment is better than ever”, says Thibaud Adès, Managing Director of PageGroup in Belgium. “The number of job positions already started to grow at the beginning of this year. Many of our clients have trouble in finding good candidates. They are battling for talent. Companies need to offer all kinds of extras if they want to hire the best candidates, like the right salary, good benefits and flexibility.”
The absolute figures about the job market tell the same story: in all regions the number of job openings has been increasing in the last ten months. In Brussels, the number of job seekers has been decreasing for just under two years in a row, according to the employment office’s official figures. In the region Limburg, for example, the number of job openings increased last august by 41%. And small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in West-Flanders had in the first quarter of this year 2.500 more job openings than the previous year. According to the National Bank of Belgium (NBB) there will be 140.000 new jobs between this 2016 and 2018.
2. Jobs that are lost always get more attention than jobs that are created
So if there is, in reality, so much good news, why do we get a different impression, when we see the news? That has to do with the nature of news itself. News sites and programs have the tendency to focus on big changes, instead of changes that happen gradually. “That´s why the closing of ING gets more attention than the opening of any new office or new business that is starting”, explains Thibaud Adès. Or as the economy-blogger Andreas Tirez explains on the website of the newspaper De Standaard: “You will never see a headline about the opening of a factory with 5000 new jobs. It’s already exceptional if a company announces the recruitment of a couple of hundred new employees. The closure of a company is more abrupt, and therefore gets more media coverage.”
3. We are still getting richer every year
Although the economy is not growing as spectacularly as in the 60s and 70s, even with a small growth we get richer every year: “We are much better off now than we were in the 80s”, explains Tirez. “In the last 30 years our wealth increased by 55%, and even if with a small growth of 0.6 percent we will get 20% more wealthy in the next 30 years.” Chances are that this percentage will be even higher. According to the latest report of the National Bank of Belgium the economy is growing wit 1.4 %. After many years of winter, the sun is coming out.
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