The Government of Flanders is focused on finding work for newcomers faster and more sustainably. In this context, Flemish Minister Rutten visited Colruyt Group, a forerunner in the employment of people distanced from the labour market. Colruyt Group succeeds in getting newcomers employed quickly and sustainably, thanks to language lessons, training and on-the-job coaching, among other things. Under this slogan, Colruyt Group offered language courses (Dutch and French) to more than 880 employees last year. Theirs is a model from which Minister Rutten is drawing inspiration for the Flemish integration policy. “Our labour market is desperate for workers. We need to guide those people distanced from the labour market, such as newcomers, into the labour market more intensively. Colruyt Group’s approach in this is very interesting.”
Colruyt Group as forerunner
Unleashing the potential of each individual is the central objective of Colruyt Group’s human resources policy. It is therefore an evident fact to commit to promoting diversity and inclusion, among other things. Thanks to their close cooperation with traditional actors in the labour market as well as civil society organisations and local authorities, Colruyt Group succeeds in helping people distanced from the labour market find work. The company then ensures that all employees can develop their talents thanks to a wide range of training courses and on-the-job coaching from a mentor. For example, more than 880 Colruyt Group employees took language classes last year, accounting for an investment of 1.2 million euros.
Liesbeth Sabbe, HR Director at Colruyt Group: “We’ve been taking action for years to lower barriers to accessing work and actions to strengthen integration and the chances of success. For instance, we have offered in-house language classes for employees who need them, both individually and in groups, for almost 25 years. People who are at some point severely distanced from the labour market come to us through various channels and pathways. Colruyt Group strives to create an appropriate context for their integration within the company. Of course, this includes in-depth on-the-job learning in several areas: language, vocational knowledge and personal growth. This is how we ensure that employees can work together smoothly.”
In addition, Colruyt Group also finds it important to emphasise that people who are further away from the labour market also need more support in many cases, sometimes very practically as well as on a personal and psychosocial support level. To this end, the Belgian retail group can call on numerous civil society organisations today. Liesbeth Sabbe adds: “We really want to press ahead with this, but we also still face challenges. For example, identifying the most relevant civil society partner to guide candidates is sometimes still a bit of a search. That’s why we’re calling for more structural and overarching cooperation between companies, on the one hand, and civil society organisations, on the other, to help the various target groups experiencing more difficult access to the labour market. That would really help us as a company.”
Finding work for newcomers faster
Flemish Minister for Integration Gwendolyn Rutten: “I want to find jobs for newcomers as soon as possible. This is good for society, good for the newcomer, and good for our companies. We have carried out thorough reforms in recent years, but there is still room for improvement. Colruyt provides an inspiring example of how we can successfully coach newcomers in their jobs from day one, while also giving them every opportunity in the further development of their career.”
The Flemish integration programme’s four pillars focus on learning the Dutch language, discovering our Flemish society, guiding newcomers to the labour market, and developing a social network. As a result of this reformed integration policy, 90% of the persons integrating are currently registered with VDAB, where this was only 17% previously. Yet the distance between newcomers and the labour market remains too large. The Government of Flanders wants to find work for newcomers faster and more sustainably under the slogan ‘werken vanaf dag één’ (working from the get-go). Indeed, the labour market is the best place to integrate. Massive deployment of language courses and refresher training programmes in the workplace will allow newcomers to start working immediately, but also give them the chance to further develop their talents.
General Director of the Agency for Civic and Social Integration Jo De Ro: “Finding a job is one of the keys to successful integration. The Social Orientation course covers this in detail. Moreover, we use their own language to help the persons integrating to make the right choices according to their needs. This can be done by referring them to the right partner or helping them in the process of getting their degree recognised here in Belgium, for instance. We inform and coach the person integrating, identify their needs and opportunities, and eliminate obstacles.”
Contact person for Minister Rutten: Vincent Verbeecke, spokesperson for Gwendolyn Rutten : 0489 234 743