Technician No 1 on list of bottleneck occupations



Industrial plant technician tops list of bottleneck occupations. Too few candidates for technical occupations... We notice this all too well ourselves every day.

Number of bottleneck jobs continues to rise: technicians, nurses and road workers especially sought after


There are 241 occupations on the list of bottleneck occupations of the Flemish Service for Employment and Vocational Training (VDAB) this year. That is seven more than last year. Especially for a number of technical professions, there are too few candidates. Flemish Minister of Work Jo Brouns (CD&V) wants to take as many professions off the list as possible through specific training and on-the-job learning opportunities.


This year too, we started with a long list of bottleneck professions. There are now 241 on the VDAB's list. That is 7 more than last year. Back then, there was an increase of 27 compared to the previous year. "About 40 per cent of all professions have a bottleneck character today," said Minister Brouns. According to him, the new figures show that labour market tightness remains acute and that this phenomenon will not simply disappear in the coming years.


Among the bottleneck occupations are many technical professions, but there are also still major labour shortages in the care and welfare sector. Remarkably, there are also some rather simple manual professions among them, such as fruit grower and road worker. Below is a list of the ten biggest bottleneck professions:

  1. Industrial plant technician
  2. Nurse
  3. Cleaner in people's homes
  4. Site manager
  5. Industrial automation technician
  6. Maintenance mechanic
  7. Fruit grower
  8. Bookkeeper-accountant
  9. Road worker
  10. Construction Calculator


According to Brouns, the fact that there are still so many bottleneck professions is not only due to a shortage of candidates, but also because some professions have specific requirements (technical knowledge, communication skills or language skills), which does not always make it easier to find suitable candidates. Other possible obstacles include a candidate's lack of experience, mobility problems, heavy physical work, evening and weekend work and part-time or temporary contracts.


"Jobseekers can get premium if they follow long-term training for bottleneck jobs"
Flemish minister for employment Jo Brouns (CD&V)


Brouns is committed to training, and those taking training for a bottleneck profession can do so for free. Jobseekers keep their benefits and receive an intervention from the VDAB in their expenses for transport and childcare. In 2023, 16,920 jobseekers followed a bottleneck training course, about three-quarters of the number of courses taken at the VDAB. Workplace learning is also an issue. "Via workplace learning, we also let the shop floor come into play as soon as possible so that the jobseeker acquires the necessary competences for a particular job while doing it," says minister Brouns. "Since 1 September 2023, people who have not been professionally active for more than two years can receive a bonus if they follow long-term training for a bottleneck profession," says Brouns. Already 230 people have taken advantage of this.


Also looking at secondary schools


But more is needed. "The problem is getting worse because fewer and fewer people are available to fill those jobs," says Vickie Dekocker of Agoria, the sector federation of technology companies. "Moreover, the people who are available do not necessarily meet expectations. They don't have the right skills."


"There are fewer and fewer schools offering technical training"
Vickie Dekocker (Agoria)


"Surely a very important problem we see in the offer in secondary education," says Dekocker. "There are fewer and fewer schools offering technical courses, and in the schools that offer these technical courses, classes are overcrowded." According to Agoria, it is more expensive for a school to offer a technical course because machines and equipment have to be purchased.



Arnoudt, J. (2024, 29 January). Number of bottleneck professions continues to rise: technicians, nurses and roadworks especially sought. VRT NWS. https://www.vrt.be/vrtnws/nl/2024/01/26/aantal-knelpuntberoepen-stijgt-weer-lichtjes-dit-jaar-zijn-er-2/

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