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Skills for the future: Building bridges to new opportunities



Belgium is a federal state comprising three communities and three regions that are based on four language areas. Competences for different policies are distributed between the federal, regional and community levels. Skills policies are largely shared between the regions and communities, as the communities are the competent authority for education and culture, and the regions are competent for employment and economy. Labour law and social dialogue are a federal competence. So there's lots of bridge building happening in Belgium, and that's also why Belgium's regions and communities will have a strong presence at the 2024 OECD Skills Summit.

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Wallonia is a federated region with legislative powers, and its own authorities within the Belgian federal state.
Its current responsibilities include notably the economy, employment, training, research and social action.
Within the Regional Administration, the SPW Emploi-Formation participates with the players in the Walloon “employment-training” landscape in implementing the Walloon Government’s guidelines in terms of employment by managing schemes designed to encourage job creation and combat social and professional exclusion, training leading to qualifications and lifelong learning (future occupations, validation of skills, new technologies, sandwich training, languages, etc.), socio-professional integration and support for entrepreneurship.
All the players in Wallonia are mobilised to meet the current and future challenges of lifelong learning, the green and digital transition, and new needs in terms of professions and skills acquisition.

Flanders has one of the tightest labour markets in all of Europe, with severe labour shortages in a third of all occupations. An ageing workforce and the challenges of the green and digital transition mean that these shortages are unlikely to disappear soon. Flanders has responded to these challenges with an ambitious Lifelong Learning Action Plan, agreed between the government of Flanders, social partners and public and private training providers. The Action Plan includes initiatives such as competence forecasting, an individual learning account, and guidance and support for potential learners and training providers.

The Brussels Region is responsible for employment and vocational training. The employment rate in the Brussels Region rose from 61.9% in 2019 to 65.2% in 2022. To maintain this increase and give more Brussels residents access to employment, the Region has introduced a number of measures aimed at upgrading the linguistic, digital and professional skills of job seekers, including skills assessments followed by a training programme.  Getting a job means getting out of a precarious situation and becoming more independent.

The Fédération Wallonie-Bruxelles (FWB) serves the French-speaking people of Belgium. It is responsible for education, culture, sport, youth work, scientific research and the judicial system. Adapting education to 21st century society is one of the major challenges. Giving everyone the chance to acquire systematic, cross-disciplinary approaches that will enable them to tackle the complex issues linked to the digital transition and the transition to solidarity, ecology and society, as well as forward-looking skills, is a central element of FWB policy. This vision of lifelong learning is promoted through the different levels of education from early childhood to higher education. The FWB also organizes modular education dedicated and adapted to any adult wishing to obtain a diploma, certification or to acquire new skills.

“Ostbelgien” stands for the German-speaking community, wich is located in the east of Belgium. The German-speaking community is a well protected minority in Belgium, with the same rights as the Flemish and French communities. As well as the areas of language and culture, education and training, and social and health policy, the German-speaking Community has successively taken on other responsibilities transferred from the Walloon Region. Since then, employment policy, regional planning and tourism have also been part of its many missions. When it comes to education and training, Ostbelgien is strongly committed to lifelong learning and apprenticeships. This choice is a guarantee of quality, diversity and better future prospects for our young citizens. The combination of “practice and theory” is what makes this apprenticeship approach a model of success. The challenges of digital, climatic and social transitions are the driving forces behind our education and skills goals.