Revealing Brussels’ true potential through LinkedIn data

Cities achieve economic growth when the supply and demand of talent are in balance – when the skills that businesses need are the skills that are increasingly available. This balance ensures fulfilling, rewarding careers for those leaving education, and it ensures those moving to a region can make a positive economic contribution.

At LinkedIn, we believe this talent balance doesn’t come about simply by chance. By leveraging LinkedIn data on the skills that our members have and the skills that recruiters are looking for, we can map the connections, spot the trends in growing and declining skills, and identify the gaps between talent and opportunity. That’s why LinkedIn is working with 35 cities worldwide to generate real-time actionable insights on local economies and labour markets. Our approach is helping policymakers fine-tune policies to maximise the potential of people, and of local economies.

Brussels is one of the most intriguing of the cities that we work with. Its name has become a byword for government. However, our analysis of trends in talent and opportunities, which we released this week, shows that there is far more to the region’s economic potential.

Brussels’ technology advantage

Technology skills dramatically increase the likelihood of Brussels-based LinkedIn members having started a new position in the past 12 months. A quarter of those with the programming languages Perl, Python or Ruby have done so. Almost as many of those with skills in user interfaces or Java development have likewise gotten a new job in the past year, and those with expertise in game development are not far behind.

Workers with technology skills in Brussels are also finding work in Finance & Insurance. Fintech is an area of great potential, but the combination of language, technology and regulatory expertise required is not something every city can field. Brussels could look to increase its share of this industry, and use this same advantage in other areas where technology meet regulation and internationalisation.

More than a centre of government

Government and Administration do indeed play a hugely significant role in Brussels’ labour market. Government sector employment is 30% above the global average and the European Commission and European Parliament are the region’s two largest employers. However, focusing on Brussels’ role in government misses other equally important engine rooms for the local economy. It’s significant, for example, that 45% of LinkedIn members are employed by private companies with less than 100 employees, and that the healthcare and pharmaceuticals sector is the third largest source of open job opportunities in the private sector, behind technology and professional services.

Fine-tuning the economic engine

Its role at the heart of the European Union has helped to make Brussels a magnet for talent. The region gains 18 new LinkedIn members for every one that moves elsewhere. However, the attraction of the region goes beyond public sector jobs. The skills that have most increased in supply as a result of migration include software development, engineering and data presentation. Brussels’ ongoing vibrancy and economic potential will depend on a balanced economy that continues to spread opportunity beyond the European Commission and European Parliament.

This week, Belgium’s Deputy Prime Minister, Alexander De Croo, announced a new digital skill initiative to prepare the workforce so that they can be part of the economic potential revealed by our study. It’s an indication of how the nuances revealed by this kind of data analysis can inform policymaking.

We’re very proud to have the chance to contribute to the expansion of career opportunities for people in Belgium, and we thank the Deputy Prime Minister and BeCentral for embracing the opportunity to transform our insights into policies that will improve people’s working lives.

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