Belgian companies have invested more in training and development of employees in the recent years. Their efforts are paying off. According to a recent study by Michael Page Belgian employees feel very positive about their career opportunities: 57 percent even expect a promotion in the near future.

The supermarket chain Colruyt prides itself on the fact that any re-stocker of shelves who has potential can make a career within the company and end up being a manager. “It´s in the DNA of the organisation: our company grows because of the self-development of the employees,” says Liesbeth Sabbe, Human Resource Director with Colruyt, in an interview with the newspaper Het laatste Nieuws.  The company does not only invest a lot in the education of their staff – like technical training and internships – but also in career coaching.

Career promotion

Colruyt is just one of many examples of companies in Belgium that put a lot of effort in the training and development of their personnel. According to research by the Confederation of Belgian Businesses (VBO), companies invest 2,4 percent of the total salary costs in education of employees.

It puts Belgium in the second place in the European ranking, right after France, and before Germany and the Netherlands. The investment pays off: a recent labour market study by Michael Page shows that 71 percent of all Belgian employees between 30 and 50 expect to develop their professional skills in the near future. As a result of their efforts, 57 percent expect a career promotion.

A positive impact

The fact that your employees have an optimistic view on their future with the company has an enormously positive impact on the business in general. That´s why you should treat you staff as your most important asset, says Ilze Lamers, Talent Director Northern Europe and Germany with PageGroup:  “If they are happy, the business will benefit in every way. For instance, we use our employees for recruiting new talent. Many people become interested in working with us, just by word of mouth. There’s no better advertisement for your company than your own employees.”

On top of that a strong training and development program is the best way to retain your best employees, explains Lamers:  “It’s not enough anymore to offer a good position and salary. The new generation also wants to know what an employer can offer in terms of personal and professional development. We have all kinds of coaching and training programs to help them to develop their career. Over 90 percent of our managers and board members come from within our own company.”

Lifelong learning

Also the economy as a whole benefits from the investment in training and development. That´s why the European Union has lifelong learning as one of its top priorities. “The competitiveness of businesses in Europe is based on a combination of innovation, science and investment in human capital”, explains Geert Peter de Oude, CEO of Onyx Online Learning. “The technological development and globalisation have an enormous impact on the way we work. Employees are required to be more skilled. The objective of lifelong learning is that every employee has always access to education and training. That way they are able to quickly adapt to new circumstances.