“Instead of doing as we did in the 1960s and importing workers from Morocco, we should be looking inside our own ranks,” he said. “At the moment the rate of employment is only 70%. Of the remaining 30%, only 5% are looking for work. We need to make an effort towards that group.”
However while those figures may be accurate, they refer to the labour market as a whole, whereas the tech sector is experiencing a critical shortage of qualified applicants for the many vacancies which remain chronically open.
Van Avermaet offered a number of possible solutions, including investment in digitalisation and allowing people to work for longer. The number of people leaving the workforce, he pointed out, is twice as high as the number of young people entering it. “The average retirement age in this country is 61, somewhat lower than in the EU as a whole,” he said.
On a more general note, he called on the next federal government to make a priority of legal certainty regarding flights and flight paths out of Brussels Airport. “If the airport were to be given the chance to grow further, then the expected number of 20,000 new direct jobs and 40,000 indirect could be doubled,” he said. That should be done, however, in a sustainable manner, which should be possible with new technology making aircraft quieter.