‘Recruit nurses directly in Eastern-Europe’

In Ireland and Great-Britain, about one in six nurses is foreign. Belgium organises additional training programs for qualified or semi-qualified non Belgian health workers.
The data of the World Health Organization on the number of Eastern-European nurses in Western-Europe are clear. Great-Britain, Ireland and Sweden have opened the doors to the Eastern-Europeans – coming from the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Lithuania, Latvia, Poland, Slovakia and Slovenia. In Ireland and Great-Britain, about one in six nurses is foreign.
In Belgium, new EU-citizens only get a limited access to the job-market. This was the finding of the Belgian organization for clandestine labour migrants ORCA. ORCA conducted interviews with Romanians, Bulgarians and Polish within the framework of information sessions about labor rights and legal labor. ‘Aside from the circuit of self-employed and detached work, new EU-citizens can only get a legal job via the Belgian list of professions for which there are not enough national workers, says ORCA. However, the competences of these new EU-citizens don’t necessarily match with these so-called “bottleneck professions” and in those cases where they do – for example for nurses – Eastern-Europeans have problems to get their diplomas acknowledged.
The Flemish employers’ organization Unizo has never been a big fan of this list. It doesn’t work and doesn’t offer enough transparency and flexibility, critics say. Unizo doesn’t think Flanders is being too strict when it comes to recognizing diplomas, but they do admit to certain problems. Anton Van Asche from the study-service of Unizo: ‘A Polish laborer for example can’t prove he’s a plasterer. The proofs of experience (which are a professional recognition of a profession based on a test, td) only hold for recognized professions. And in the case of nurses for example, not all trainings are recognized. One solution may be that medical companies recruit directly in foreign schools where the diploma is recognized. This is already common practice in Romanian nursing schools’.
Together with the Flemish labour consultancy organisation VDAB and the Naric – which coordinates the recognition of foreign diplomas in Flanders – the department of Education of the Flemish government will launch a number of test programs in Bruges and Turnhout in September. Spokesperson Mieke Volcke: ‘We are aiming specifically at the underprivileged, a group to which the new EU-citizens belong as well. With this project, people from the healthcare sector can take courses to become a logistics assistant, A2 or bachelor in nursing. These – part-time – courses will help them to learn Dutch, will make it possible to make up a competence profile, and will get them to do a practice period.
Translation by Sven Heyndrickx

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