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Traditionally regarded as an Eldorado for French cross-border temporary employees, neighbouring Belgium now has its own problems with 14% unemployment and a much tightened labour market, French daily La Voix du Nord reports.
Sophie Werschelde of Belgian temporary employment agency AGO Interim, based just a stone throw away from the French border, said "we are having real difficulties in placing our French temporary employees. We can only just place one in ten at the moment. Three years ago we had one in three in work. At the moment, the French who get jobs in Belgium have very special profiles."
Metal mechanics, joiners, carpenters and welders are always welcome in Belgium, especially because the French have a reputation of being better trained. Unqualified French labourers, however, are finding it very difficult to find temporary employment in Belgium at the moment and employers are beginning to insist on bilingual* candidates.
Sandrine Messelier of temporary staffing agency Konvert Interim, said "in 2006 and 2007 [Belgian] employers were desperate for staff and they were not quite so demanding. Now they insist on bilingual candidates, otherwise they are not interested."
*Belgium has three official languages: Dutch in the Flemish North (59% of population), French in the Southern region of Wallonia (40% of population) and German in the region around the German border (1% of population).