King Philippe of Belgium visits H.Essers, which strives to create maximum opportunities as an employer – including for those who struggle to access the labour market.

King Philippe of Belgium visits H.Essers, which strives to create maximum opportunities as an employer – including for those who struggle to access the labour market.

On 6 October, the well-known red logo on the Transportlaan in Genk boasted a tricolour touch. In preparation of his mission to Denmark later this year, King Philippe of Belgium visited H.Essers. By visiting our company, the King wants to gain a better understanding of how the activity rate in our country can be increased and how vacancies can be filled more quickly.

There are a record number of job openings in Belgium. The same trend can be seen at H.Essers this year, with a staggering 350 vacancies. More and more positions just stay open. Especially those for shortage occupations such as IT professionals, mechanics, customs declarants, logistics managers and drivers. The war for talent is raging and the labour market seems to be saturated. The unemployment figures in our country are therefore at an all-time low: 4% in Flanders, 11.8% in Brussels and 8.5% in Wallonia. At the same time, the activity rate is too low: 72.4% in Flanders, 64.3% in Brussels and 65.3% in Wallonia. This means that many people do not find their way to the labour market. There are various reasons why they find it difficult to enter the job market: lack of education, long-term unemployment, foreign languages or difficult integration. These are all barriers that H.Essers wants to remove.

With ‘A red solution for everyone’, the company is helping to raise the level of activity in Belgium. Gert Bervoets, CEO H.Essers: “We want to give everyone the chance to work. That is why we do more than just write job ads. With targeted initiatives, we want to reach target groups that have difficulty finding their way (back) to the job market. We help them grow in a job that suits them.”

Creating opportunities

Concretely, these initiatives focus on creating opportunities, such as promoting lifelong learning and self-development, reintegration after a period of extended inactivity, on-the-job training, ensuring inclusion and promoting migration. Mike Dautzenberg, HR Director: “We want to give people who have difficulty entering the labour market every opportunity for professional development. At H.Essers, we make sure we provide sustainable and enjoyable work. Because activating people is about creating opportunities. To give them meaningful work. This is our mission, every day again.”

The higher Danish activity rate as an example

H.Essers has been active in Denmark for thirteen years, with warehouses in Allerød and Taastrup. Steven Swennen, Business Unit Manager Nordics: “Our focus in Denmark is on warehousing. Today, we employ around fifty people and are still looking for new recruits. Although the level of activity is higher than in Belgium, the unemployment rate is very low and it remains difficult to find candidates.”

At 3.6%, unemployment in Denmark is lower than Belgium’s at 6.2%. At the same time, the activity rate is 79.2%: 10% higher than the Belgian average. Gert Bervoets: “The Danish model is certainly an inspiration for Belgium. In the meantime, H.Essers and its partners are already taking initiatives to get more Belgians to work and thus support the increase in the level of activity in our country as well.”

Relive the visit through our video or pictures: