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Belgium's skills snapshot


Developing the relevant skills

  • How well does Belgium’s education system perform? In the 2009 PISA tests of 15-year-olds, Belgium is among the top performing OECD countries in reading (rank 11), mathematics (rank 14) and science (rank 21).1
  • Does Belgium invest enough in education and training? Belgium spent 6.7% of its annual wealth on education in 2009, compared to the OECD average of 6.2%.2
  • How much are Belgian citizens undertaking further education? In 2008, 33% of Belgian citizens participated in continuing education compared to the OECD average of 34%.3
  • How equal is access to opportunities for further training in Belgium? In 2008, 63% of people aged 25-64 with a tertiary-level education participated in formal and/or non-formal education, compared with 20% for people in the same age group with below upper secondary education.4
  • Should more be done to prevent skills shortages? The unemployment rate rose between 2007 and 2011,5 and some 36% of Belgian employers reported recruiting difficulties in 2011, as in 2007. 67

Supplying skills

  • Is there scope to improve skill utilisation in Belgium through strengthening labour force participation? In 2011, 84.8% of the people aged between 25 and 54 were in the labour force, compared to an OECD average of 81%.8 The participation rate for prime-age women (aged 25-54) is above the OECD average at 78.7% (OECD average 71%).9
  • To what extent are Beglium’s older workers supplying their skills to the labour market? In 2011, only 40.3% of people aged 55 to 64 were in the labour force, compared to an OECD average of 57.8%.10   

Using skills

  • How smooth is the transition from school to work for Belgium’s youth? The employment rate of Belgium’s youth in 2011 was 26%, compared with the OECD average of 39.3%.11 In2011, the unemployment rate of Belgium’s youth was 18.7%, a relatively high rate compared with the OECD average of 16.2%.12
  • Are the qualifications of Belgium’s workers well matched with the requirements of their jobs? In 2005, 18% of Belgium’s workers were over-qualified for their jobs (against the OECD average of 25%), and 20% were under-qualified (against the OECD average of 22%).13 Over-qualified (under-qualified) workers are those who have a higher (lower) qualification than the most common qualification of all other workers in the same occupation.


Key recommendations from the OECD Skills Strategy

A country can develop the relevant skills by encouraging and enabling people to learn throughout life; fostering international mobility of skilled people to fill skills gaps; and promoting cross-border skills policies.

A country can activate the supply of skills by encouraging people to offer their skills to the labour market and retaining skilled people in the labour market.

A country can put skills to effective use by creating a better match between people’s skills and the requirements of their job and increasing the demand for high-level skills.

For more information, see the:

OECD Policy Map on Skills | OECD Skills Strategy | Skills Strategy: Overview

Watch this video on strong performers in Flanders, Belgium


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