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Mind the talent gap

The Belgian labor market continues to suffer from a talent shortage due to a mismatch between the skills that jobseekers have versus the skills that employers seek. More than a third of all companies in Belgium struggle to find the right profiles. The digital age calls for a skills revolution, and the Belgian labor market has to evolve to remain competitive.

According to the 2018 Talent Shortage Survey by ManpowerGroup, more employers than ever are struggling to fill open vacancies. The talent shortage is a global problem and affects all kinds of industries. In this digital age, technology is redefining roles, and with the rapid pace of technological change, continuous learning will be vital for employees to adapt to the demands of the labor market.

Belgium has long been known for its talented, highly educated and multilingual workforce – a key success factor to attract international companies. Yet with the integration and utilization of technology in the workplace, a war on talent has emerged, as finding employees with the right technical and human skills has become increasingly difficult.

So, what is needed to adapt to the skills revolution of the digital age, to plug the talent gap? In its latest report, ManpowerGroup proposes a four-part talent strategy: build, buy, borrow and bridge.

Building talent requires companies to invest in training and continuous professional development of their existing staff. This works as a win-win, being beneficial for both employees and the employers. A second part of the strategy is buying talent, attracting talent by offering an attractive work environment, supplemented by competitive salary and benefit packages. To attract the best people, a company’s HR department must stay on top of the latest trends in the market. For short-term projects or when expertise is needed quickly, companies can borrow talent, relying on freelancers, temporary workers or contractors. Finally, a strategy is needed to bridge talent, to deal with transformation, digitization and automation, and to optimize people’s skills within the right roles, within or outside of the company.

A combination of these four techniques can allow both individuals and companies to reach their full potential and to help overcome the talent shortage in this digital age.

AmCham Belgium welcomes the efforts of the government to conclude an “Employment Deal” before the Summer to address the twin challenges of a high job vacancy rate and a relatively low employment rate. One of Belgium’s greatest assets is its people, but to maintain the high quality of its workforce and forestall further skills shortages, Belgium needs to continue to invest in education and training.