Almost 1 in 3 of the bottleneck occupations are in the construction and installation sector


3 in 10 occupations in VDAB's bottleneck list are construction occupations

The shortage of employees in the construction and installation sector continues to grow. This is evident from the annual Bottleneck List, published yesterday by VDAB, which shows that almost 3 in 10 bottleneck occupations can be found in the construction and installation sector, compared to 1 in 5 last year. In the top 10 bottleneck occupations, site manager ranks second, making it the most in-demand profile in construction. Industrial plant technician is in 3rd place. Only the shortage of nurses is greater in Flanders. We also see the demand for construction calculator rising from 9th to 6th place. However, this is nothing new: the construction sector has been represented in the VDAB list for ten years and every year the demand for construction and technical workers rises.

Of the 234 bottleneck occupations mapped by the VDAB, the construction sector - together with installers and HVAC technicians active in construction - now has 66 bottleneck occupations, up from 46 last year. The number of heavy bottleneck professions in this sector rises to 21, meaning that there are very few or no jobseekers with the necessary skills available for these professions. These include site manager, construction calculator, HVAC technicians, various construction installers, carpenters, roofers, road workers, cutters, bricklayers and construction site machinists. Newcomers to the bottleneck list are soil surveyors, lift installers and water pipe connectors.

The demand for higher profiles in construction is rising even more strongly than last year. Vacancies for site manager and calculator construction are hard to fill because of a structural shortage of technically skilled people with a bachelor or master degree. Young people are also choosing less to study construction. Year after year, enrolments are declining because young people are not sufficiently familiar with construction jobs and career opportunities.

However, new technologies and digitalisation are also making these professions more attractive. Embuild Flanders wants to bring this out more with the #WERFZE campaign. Fortunately, there is also good news, because this year 243 students already started the two-year graduate course in Site Organisation, which has been gaining in popularity every year since it started in 2019.

Out of the box

In the short term, the action plan the sector concluded with VDAB should ensure that more candidates apply for a job in construction. In addition, Embuild Flanders and VDAB are looking at the possibilities of attracting jobseekers from other sectors or recruiting professionals from Brussels, Wallonia, the European Union or internationally. That the white raven, as VDAB says, has taken flight, construction employers have known for some time. Construction companies are pioneers in 'learning on the job': starting from their recruitment, they give motivated people without professional knowledge or skills in-company training, construction growth jobs and master mentor programmes. In this way, the construction industry is partially taking matters into its own hands, but it cannot fully meet the need for new employees. Embuild Flanders therefore expects VDAB to provide a more specialised service for employers that offers solutions to the individual needs of companies.

With the pool of job seekers drying up and employers having to think 'outside the box', we also expect VDAB to broaden its scope and rethink its role, says Marc Dillen, director general of Embuild Flanders.

Source: Knelpuntberoepen 2023 (

Want to know more about our #WERFZE campaign or the construction site manager or calculator profession? Find more information here.

"With the pool of jobseekers drying up and employers having to think 'outside the box', we expect VDAB to also broaden its scope and rethink its role."