Belgium is using ESF funding to implement employment projects across all of the country’s communities and regions. Both at Federal and regional level, the ESF is helping tackle low employment levels, encourage training and improve social inclusion among vulnerable groups.
Belgium is striving to bring more of its citizens into the workforce, and in particular people who face particular obstacles to finding work. It is also committed to improving workers’ skills to help them take advantage of the new jobs appearing as the economy develops. For example, in Wallonia a focus is on developing a strong research and technology base – as shown by training programmes in technologies closely linked to local industries, such as in engineering and technical maintenance. Likewise, an ESF project is giving building workers the chance to train in ecological construction techniques.
In Flanders, projects are concentrating on bringing vulnerable groups into work, such as a programme which encourages young people to complete their studies, acquire qualifications and opt for further training – all to improve their job prospects. For example, the ‘Job&Co’ project supports the long-term unemployed and immigrants, among others, to overcome obstacles and get into work.
All Belgium’s regions are supporting entrepreneurship as a way of creating jobs for a wide range of people. In the Limburg region, some 350 job-seekers were given advice on setting up their own businesses. In Liège, an ESF project is supporting artists to develop their ideas, turn them into cultural projects, and use them as a source of self-employment. In the Brussels-Capital region, women are getting the training they need to join the workforce and run their own businesses. At Federal level, the government is using ESF funds to test out innovative approaches to improving people’s job prospects, including by sharing good practices with other countries.