Expatica news

Belgian workers too costly, jobs moving to Asia

4 May 2006

BRUSSELS — The productivity of Belgian workers is high and the quality of their work is good, but high wage costs mean jobs are being lost to Asia, a new study has found.

Carried out by consultancy firm Pricewaterhouse Coopers (PwC), the study revealed Belgium is facing increasing difficulties in competing with the developing economies in Asia, such as China and India.

The study examined global productivity and found that India and China are no longer just low-wage economies involved in manufacturing.

PwC spokesman Kevin Delany said increasingly highly qualified staff and lower wages in these countries mean Belgian employees are unable to compete.

This is despite the fact the director of HR services at PwC Belgium, Peter De Bley, said the results of the survey confirm the famous productivity rate of Belgian workers.

He said the turnover and profit per worker in Belgian firms is higher than elsewhere in Europe, newspaper ‘De Standaard’ reported on Wednesday.

In comparison with the US, however, Belgium does not score as well. This is easy to explain though: with an average of 1,550 work hours per year in Belgium, workers here work an equal amount or slightly more than colleagues in Western Europe.

However, in comparison with the US, where workers work on average 1,619 hours, the Belgian worker works considerably less. The global leader, however, is South Korea, where employees work on average 2,302 hours each year.

However, the competitive advantage that Belgium enjoys due to is productivity rate is largely undone by the high costs of labour here.

Total wage costs for the employer amount on average to EUR 50,000 per year. That is EUR 12,000 more than in bordering nations and six times as much than in Eastern Europe.

The wage costs in Belgium constitute a fifth of a company’s production costs. In the US, labour constitutes a third of a company’s production costs.

[Copyright Expatica News 2006]

Subject: Belgian news