According to essenscia’s annual jobs survey, companies active in the chemicals, plastics and life sciences industry had more than 1,300 job vacancies in June 2017.
Higher education is key to be eligible for those jobs: one-third of them require a Masters-level qualification, mainly in engineering, bioengineering or science (chemistry, biology), and one-third require a professional Bachelor-level degree for employment not only in production but also in the R&D departments of pharmaceutical and biotech companies, providing support to researchers.
In Flanders, the need for technical qualifications has increased significantly compared to 2016, up from 29% of job profiles to 41%. Almost half of these jobs require students who, after their secondary school education, have completed a seventh year of specialization in chemical-process techniques. Three-quarters of these technical jobs are in production and the rest relate mainly to maintenance activities.
The sector also offers career opportunities to school leavers with a technical or scientific diploma, as 58% of vacancies in Flanders do not require any previous experience (mainly production jobs in the chemicals industry) while one in five jobs in Wallonia are open to newcomers (mainly in the pharma industry).
This survey confirms that chemicals, plastics and life sciences sector is thriving, with 1,400 new jobs created in the last two years. The industry employs 90,000 people directly in Belgium and generates 150,000 indirect jobs in ‘supporting’ sectors (IT, catering, consultancy, maintenance, etc.). To guarantee enough young people with the talents required for the further development of the sector in Belgium, it is thus paramount to motivate young people to study STEM subjects and to expand dual learning.