Immigrants have hard time on labour market
Belgium scored considerably worse than the other countries in new OECD study.
18 November 2008
The OECD, the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, compared the labour markets and immigrants in Belgium, the Netherlands, France and Portugal.
Belgium scored considerably worse than the other countries. Unemployment among the group of inhabitants of a foreign origin studied is 2.5 times higher than among other Belgians. Especially people outside the European Union and women of foreign origin have a hard time finding a job.
According to the OECD study a 20 year-old of foreign origin has 21% less chance of getting a job than a Belgian of the same age. In Portugal that person has a 17% less chance. In France the gap narrows to 10% and in the Netherlands the youngster of foreign origin has an 8% less chance of getting a job.
Part of the problem is the education system which tends to quickly filter people of foreign origin into less-demanding studies. 4 out of 10 youngsters of foreign origin have a low level of education here in Belgium, compared to 1 in 10 of the Belgian youngsters. Many of the unskilled youngsters have to get extra training by the employment office or an employer. According to the OECD, Belgium should tackle this problem - especially in the Walloon and Brussels regions.
Another problem in Belgium is that there is little difference between the lowest wages and highest level of unemployment benefit. Motivation can thus be a problem.
Discrimination is also a stumbling block - in companies but also in private homes. Half of the domestic help jobs in Brussels go to immigrant women; in Flanders only 5% take an immigrant for domestic work.