Truffles from Brussels
Mention Brussels these days and most people tend to roll their eyes. Not though the Working Well Team in Manchester which expertly hosted a mutual learning visit on Health and Employability from VDAB, the Belgian Flemish Employment Service. Sadly no truffles, but plenty of great ideas for everyone to chew over.
As populations age and long term unemployment continues to affect the lives of many citizens, governments everywhere are struggling with how best to help people into sustainable work. In Barcelona, where Ingeus delivers employability services for the charity Caritas, nearly one in two of the workforce has been out of work for more than a year. The figure in Belgium is similar. In the UK, it is around one in four. Better, but still far too high.
The common link binding Ingeus in Manchester and VDAB is that they both have deserved reputations for challenging traditional approaches to helping people far from the labour market into work. Over the two day visit, our Belgian colleagues had animated exchanges with the teams in Stockport and Bolton on a range of topics including integration of health professionals into case management, digitisation, employer engagement and the challenges of service co-ordination between actors.
Head of Delivery, Jayne Garner said, ‘the team has really enjoyed this opportunity to share experience with their Belgian counterparts and we look forward to continuing our common learning journey’. The intention will be to continue this conversation and to widen it to include other countries breaking new ground in health and employability, like Estonia and the Netherlands, so that we can feed new thinking into the next iteration of contacts.
Photo: Photo Bolton