As a member of parliament for Agora Brussels, Pepijn Kennis is the representative of the Brussels Citizens' Assembly (BCA). He examines the proposals and objectives formulated by the BCA on employment and labour and thus gives citizens a voice in the Brussels Parliament. Through parliamentary questions Pepijn is able to critically check ministers and their decisions. The questions and answers serve to check whether the demands of the Brussels Citizens' Assembly are sufficiently heard by the government. By actively involving Brussels inhabitants in political decisions via the Assembly, we show that a democracy can also be inclusive, deliberative and participatory!
The BCA on work and employment asked itself how we can make work accessible. In the name of the Citizens Assembly Pepijn asked 4 parliamentary questions to Minister Bernard Clerfayt (Défi) on accessible work:
1) By optimizing the services of Actiris
2) By allowing or obliging anonymous CVs in the recruitment process
3) By providing a motivated feedback in case of refusal
4) By centralizing a platform where all job offers appear
Optimal service for optimal job opportunities
Today Actiris is the most important player on the Brussels labour market. That is why it is important that Actiris is known to the people of Brussels and that there is enough transparency. Job-seeking inhabitants of Brussels need reliable support in their search for a job. That is why the Actiris complaints service should be more visible. A place where job seekers can easily go with their questions and problems is crucial to guarantee a good cooperation between Actiris, job seekers and employers!
Minister Clerfayt announced that the last figures on satisfaction with Actiris date from 2019. Back then, satisfaction figures were between 6.6 and 7 out of 10 among employees and employers. Those figures could certainly improve. Agora is therefore looking forward to the 2021 evaluation. With those results, the work can resume.
The complaints department has a clear procedure for following up complaints. We are -of course- pleased with this. Unfortunately, complaints are on the rise. Hopefully the Brussels Government can identify and tackle the cause of this increase.
Agora is therefore waiting for new figures and will continue to follow this dossier closely. After all, a strong and streamlined service from Actiris will make jobs more visible and accessible.
Discussion in the commission
Anonymous CV's as a tool against discrimination ?
Discrimination is still a big problem within the Brussels labour market. It can already start with your CV. Prejudice about your ethnicity, place of residence, gender, age, orientation or belief can unfortunately still influence your chances of getting a job. Today, anonymous CVs are used in practical tests (tests on the labor market to detect discrimination), but nowhere else. Anonymous CVs do not contain personal information such as age, name, marital status, etcetera. They serve to counter discrimination.
The Brussels Citizen's Assembly sees a wider addition of the anonymous CV as a missed opportunity to avoid discrimination in the recruitment process. An anonymous CV is the perfect opportunity for job seekers to apply for jobs without being the victim of prejudice. After all, your personal identity has nothing to do with your professional capabilities. The BCA states that personal information therefore has no place in a professional context. There is currently no legal framework for anonymous CVs.
Minister Clerfayt referred to a report from 2011 that experimented with anonymous CVs in the Brussels Region. Agora can find a number of elements in the report that were also recognized by the BCA. Such as the diversification of the recruitment team and more attention to skills. These help to reduce discrimination. Although Minister Clerfayt does not seem to be a supporter of anonymous CVs, Agora proposes to use the anonymous CV as a tool against discrimination. It can play an important role in a larger, overall plan that builds on recommendations found in the 2011 report.
Discussion in the commission
The right to feedback
We all know it, you try your hardest to write a nice resume and motivation letter. You wait, and wait, but there is no answer. For the 90,000 job seekers in Brussels, this is often a daily reality. It can result in frustration and less motivation. That is why the BCA proposes to require employers to provide motivated and reasoned feedback when they decide to reject someone. With that feedback, job seekers can then work to polish their resumes. This way, people who have less experience in applying for a job are still given the opportunity to find out what went wrong.
Minister Bernard Clerfayt (Défi) spoke to Pepijn. We learned that in the job offers that Actiris oversees, there is no information on exactly how many responses are sent out by employers. That data falls under labor law, which is a federal competence. Thus, Actiris cannot track them. A legal obligation for employers to provide feedback also falls outside the competence of Minister Clerfayt. Nevertheless, the Brussels Government itself can still make an impact.
Actiris already asks for feedback. Employers can share their experiences about the selection process, unfortunately this feature is hardly used.
Although the Brussels Government does not have the authority to make feedback on CVs obligatory, it can emphasize the importance of this feedback to employers. Not only for job seekers but for the entire labour market, including employers. Targeted and relevant applications will only make the recruitment process easier.
'Actiris Select' can be a tool to provide feedback. There, Actiris draws up a list of up to 6 potential candidates from which the employer can choose. Agora hopes that the Brussels Government will motivate employers to make more use of the feedback feature, especially if there are only 6 candidates. Minister Clerfayt mentioned that giving feedback can be time-consuming. However, since there are only 6 candidates in 'Actiris Select', the feedback can be time efficient. Job seekers can learn a lot about the selection process through this feature. In this way, they are better prepared for their next application.
Discussion in the commission
One platform for all job offers
In 2019, Minister Bernard Clerfayt had already advocated an obligation for Brussels companies to pass on their job openings to Actiris. The Brussels Civic Assembly had also recognized Actiris as a logical gathering place for Brussels job openings. Minister Clerfayt then referred to the Royal Decree of 5 December 1969, which already obliges this. Today, there is still no central database where all job openings can be found. It is therefore remarkable that the Brussels government does not apply this legislation today, even though it has the authority to do so.
Minister Clerfayt admits that vacancies via Actiris are a handy tool to give more job seekers a chance on the labor market. To this end, he hopes to convince employers in particular to publish their job openings via Actiris. However, he indicates that no one applies this legislation because it is not very realistic.
Agora regrets that the minister only opts for an encouraging approach and does not implement the law. Through the existing channels he wants to make Actiris more attractive so that employers use the website more. The minister also points to technological limitations and a heavy administrative burden, but according to Agora these are not insurmountable. Actiris currently collects an estimated 33% of all job offers on the Brussels labour market. Including the partners, this is already 85%, which is considerably better.
Integrating the offers of these partners in the Actiris platform would therefore already be a big step forward in centralizing all job offers. Since Actiris and its partners are already working together, the technological threshold for unifying job offers on a single platform is already lower.