Work in Belgium: How to find jobs in Belgium
Read more on the official websites of the communities:
- Flanders (Flemish or Dutch speaking community): https://www.vlaanderen.be/en
- Walloon (French speaking community): http://www.wallonie.be
- German-speaking community: http://www.dg.be/en/desktopdefault.aspx/tabid-2788/5431_read-34851/
And on https://www.belgium.be/en for the country of Belgium
Find work in Belgium with this complete guide to jobs in Belgium, including Belgian job websites, recruitment agencies, Belgian jobs in demand, the Belgian job market and permits required to work in Belgium.
Many foreigners easily find work in Belgium and chances of finding jobs in Belgium‘s https://www.expatica.com/be/jobs/ main cities, particularly jobs in Brussels https://www.expatica.com/be/employment/finding-a-job/finding-jobs-in-brussels-106683/ , are increased by the extensive international business scene and European Union (EU) presence.
With many EU institutions, NATO and lots of other major international organisations and multi-national companies based in Brussels, there are a great many jobs in Belgium for foreigners. However, in a country with three official languages and many more used in its cosmopolitan capital of Brussels, you’ll give yourself the best chance of finding a job in Belgium if you have good language skills; you’ll be competing with locals who are typically bilingual or multilingual, including a decent level of English proficiency, meaning there can be more competition for jobs in Belgium for English speakers. This guide, however, aims to help foreigners find work in Belgium by listing where to find the best jobs in Belgium.
This guide to jobs in Belgium includes:
- Jobs in Belgium: job websites, recruitment agencies and organisations
- Work in Belgium: Belgian job market, unemployment, minimum wages and taxes
- Job vacancies in Belgium and shortage occupations
- Belgian business culture and labour law
- Visas and permits to legally work in Belgium
- Language and qualifications required to find work in Belgium
- Belgian job applications: Belgian-style CVs and interview tips
The Belgian job market
In the second half of 2016, Belgium’s unemployment rate stood at 7.6 percent, slightly lower than the EU average of 8.3 percent. However, youth unemployment (those under 25) was higher than 20 percent; in previous years, the largest increase in unemployment has been among those with higher education level qualifications.
Most Belgians work in the service sector – legal, banking, media and tourism – with around a quarter working in industry including textiles, glass, engineering, car assembly and chemicals. The Belgian government maintains a list of key sectors in Belgium https://www.business.belgium.be/en/investing_in_belgium/key_sectors .
There are numerous large companies located in Belgium, including Banque Nationale de Belgique https://jobs.nbb.be/en , Proximus https://www.proximus.com/en/career (telecoms, previously Belgacom), Ageas https://www.ageas.com/careers (insurance), Anheuser-Busch InBev https://www.ab-inbev.com/careers.html (brewing), Bakaert https://www.bekaert.com/en/jobs (manufacturing, chemicals), Colruyt https://jobs.colruytgroup.com/nl/splash (food retail), Delhaize https://www.aholddelhaize.com/en/Careers/ (food retail), D’Ieteren http://www.jobs.dieteren.be (automative), Elia http://www.elia.jobs/en (energy), KBC https://www.kbc.com/en/joining-us (banking/insurance), Solvay https://www.solvay.com/en/career/working-solvay (chemicals), UBC https://www.ucb.com/careers/ (pharmaceutical) and Umicore https://www.umicore.com/careers/ (materials technology).
Belgium has one of the highest minimum wages in Europe – in 2017, Belgium’s minimum wage started at around EUR 1,532 (for 18+ years olds) to EUR 1,591 (20+ years, with at least one year of experience). Belgium, however, also has one of the highest tax rates in Europe, ranging on a sliding scale between 25 percent up to 50 percent depending on how much you earn. Read more in our guides to Belgian minimum wage and average salary in Belgium https://www.expatica.com/be/employment/employment-law/a-guide-to-minimum-wage-in-belgium-and-average-salary-972342/ , taxes in Belgium https://www.expatica.com/be/finance/taxes/belgian-tax-guide-understanding-taxes-in-belgium-for-foreigners-100073/ and Belgian social security https://www.expatica.com/be/about/gov-law-admin/social-security-in-belgium-and-your-benefits-100070/ .
Belgian management culture and labour law
The duality between the French- and Dutch-speaking regions is reflected in the Belgian workplace, which has traditionally followed the French hierarchical style where top managers make all the decisions. This, however, has been increasingly moving towards the more egalitarian Dutch approach of flatter and more open organisations, with more information flow and delegation. So while companies may still be fairly hierarchical, management authority rests more on competence and the aim is usually to reach a consensus or compromise – which can often be a protracted process. Belgians appreciate logic and reasoning and expect arguments to be backed up by clear facts and figures. They also value personal contact so not all business takes place by email or over the phone.
You may be offered a temporary contract at first as a trial period. You’ll most likely be working a 38-hour week with eight-hour days, around 20 days a year holidays plus 10 Belgian national holidays https://www.expatica.com/be/about/culture-history/belgiums-national-holidays-and-other-important-belgian-holidays-2018-103619/ . Employers divide yearly salaries into 13.92 months in order to provide extra income at different times of the year, giving an extra 92 percent in spring as ‘holiday pay’ and an extra month at the end of the year. You can read more in our guide to Belgian business culture https://www.expatica.com/be/employment/employment-basics/business-culture-in-belgium-102487/ and employment contracts in Belgium https://www.expatica.com/be/employment/employment-law/belgian-labour-law-and-your-contract-of-employment-104587/ .
Belgian work visas
All EU/EEA (European Economic Area – EU plus Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway) and Swiss nationals can work freely in Belgium without the need for a work permit, although if you’re planning to stay longer than three months you’ll need a registration certificate. Read more in guide for EU citizens moving to Belgium https://www.expatica.com/be/moving/visas/guide-for-eu-eea-swiss-citizens-moving-to-belgium-443311/ .
Citizens from elsewhere will generally need a work permit, and certain nationalities will also need a visa to enter the country, although exemptions apply. Read more in Expatica’s guide to Belgian work permits https://www.expatica.com/be/employment/employment-law/belgian-work-permits-a-guide-to-belgiums-work-permits-422637/ , or find out if you need an entry visa or any other permit in our guide to Belgian visas and permits https://www.expatica.com/be/news/ .
Languages required for jobs in Belgium
There are three official languages in Belgium: Dutch is spoken in the Flemish community in the Flanders region to the north of Belgium; French is spoken in Wallonia to the south of Brussels; and German is spoken in the south east. Between 10–20 per cent of the country, especially those in the Brussels-Capital region, are bilingual and speak both French and Dutch. You would most likely be expected to speak the language of the particular region in which you’d be working. In some cases, mainly in international companies, English may be sufficient. You can find many language schools in Belgium https://www.expatica.com/be/education/language-learning/learn-french-dutch-and-german-language-schools-in-belgium-100094/ if you need to improve your language skills.
If you come from a country signed up to the Bologna Process https://onderwijs.vlaanderen.be/ you will have your educational qualifications recognised in Belgium. Everyone else should contact NARIC https://www.naricvlaanderen.be/ (Flanders) or the Education http://www.enseignement.be/index.php?page=0&navi=18 section of the Ministère de la Fédération Wallonie-Bruxelles (Wallonia) to get foreign educational certificates of all levels recognised in Belgium. If you want to work in certain professions, you may have to have your professional qualifications, both your training and experience, officially recognised or regulated before you can work in Belgium. Check here http://ec.europa.eu/internal_market/qualifications/regprof/index.cfm?fuseaction=regProf.index to find out if you need to have your profession regulated and how to go about it.