Dynamics and Perspectives
Edited by Peter Ester, Ruud Muffels, Joop Schippers and Ton Wilthagen
Chapter 2: Labour Market Policy in Flanders: How to Tackle Vicious Circles and False Beliefs
Frank Vandenbroucke Reflecting the need for innovation in European labour market policy is challenging. What policy directions should we take? What works – in the literal sense – and what does not? What is the sense of ‘innovation’? Why do we need it? Where do we need it? These are key questions indeed, both for academics and politicians. It is also challenging because of my specific policy responsibilities in the Flemish region in Belgium. As a minister, I am responsible for education – both compulsory and higher education – and training and employment in the Flemish region, that is, roughly six million Dutch-speaking people in Belgium. The combination of education and employment in one unit is very new and exciting. Combining education and employment enables us to build bridges between the worlds of work and education. This wide scope should benefit both labour market policy and education policy. My responsibility for employment concerns placement and training, the whole ‘active’ side of labour market policy, but not unemployment benefits or labour law, which are federal Belgian competences. That dichotomy between activation policy and benefit policy is typical of Belgium’s institutional structure, as I will explain further on. First, I will show you some figures, illustrating a sad lack of dynamism in the European labour market, and particularly in the Flemish labour market on which I will focus (Section 2.1). I will then try to explain summarily what may be behind this lack of dynamism, focussing on the dichotomy in our institutions and what I call...
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