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Belgium – Temporary job market still under strain

02 October 2013

Although the economy showed some positive signs in Q2 2013, the Belgian contingent work market was still under strain compared with the same period last year, according to Federgon.

The number of hours worked by temporary agency workers decreased for the seventh consecutive quarter (-6.4%), when compared with Q2 2012. The decline was led by blue collar workers (ouvriers) which fell by -8.9%, compared with -2.9% for white collar workers (employés).

Nevertheless, as is the case in over European markets, there are signs that the situation may be reversing: on a quarterly basis, the hours increased slightly by +0.1%. Interestingly blue collar workers were driving the upwards trend: +0.4%, compared with a -0.3% decline for white collar workers.

The hours worked by temporary workers in Q2 2013 declined in all 3 regions: -4.3% in Flanders, -10.6% in the capital region of Brussels, and -10.8% in Wallonia. On a quarterly basis, the Flemish region was driving the numbers upwards as an increase by +0.8% was reported, compared with declines of -1.2% and -2.1% for Brussels and Wallonia, respectively.

Outplacement businesses faired a lot better as the number of contracts increased by +33.0% in Q2 2013, compared with the same period a year ago. Signs that the trend may be reversing could also be observed as the numbers declined by -13.9% on a quarterly basis.

The Recruitment, Search & Selection sector fell for the 4th consecutive quarter in Q2 2013: the turnover reported by Federgon members declined by -13.6% compared with a year ago. While recruitment activities fell by -18.7%, others forms of services in this sector benefitted from a more positive outlook: candidate assessment (-9.1%), coaching (-6.9%). On the other hand, HR consulting activities increased by a staggering +27.6% over the same period.

Despite the dim outlook, services to individuals (services aux particuliers) was one of the most promising sectors according to Ferdergon as the number of hours increased by +8.4% in Q2 12013, compared with Q2 2012. On a quarterly basis the sector grew by +1.4%. These services to individuals are also referred to as Service Voucher (or ‘Chèque Services’ in French, or ‘Dienstencheques’ in Flemish) whereby temporary workers offer household and homecare services to individuals. They are paid using vouchers that are purchased by the private users.

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