Working in Charleroi

Charleroi
Shutterstock.com
Updated 2021-12-17 13:35

Charleroi is a French-speaking town located in the Walloon region in Belgium. It is an industrial centre, which makes it ideal to find jobs.

Charleroi

Charleroi used to be located in what was called the Black Country, within the Belgian coal basin. The city took advantage of its true potential and became a main hub regarding Europe's railway and road networks. Today, it's the second-most populated city in Wallonia.

Economy

Charleroi is Belgium's industrial center. It's home to professionals working in the mechanical and electrical construction sector, as well as metallurgy, glass factory, and of course, chemical industry. You'll find the main steelworks company here to be Industeel, which is a subsidiary of ArcelorMittal.

While the above industries were main staples in Charleroi for many decades, it wasn't until the 2000s that this city began to diversify into other sectors, such as transportation, telecommunications, and healthcare. This is actually quite a comeback, considering the city suffered from a terrible economy from the 1970s until the late 1990s. In fact, Charleroi was so impoverished that it had one of the highest unemployment and poverty rates in all of Europe in the ‘80s and the ‘90s.

Charleroi benefits from a very dynamic cultural life and is a major place for sports. The city has leading infrastructures and several sports clubs, including Spirou Charleroi in basketball, La Villette Charleroi in table tennis, Action 21 Charleroi in futsal, and Royal Charleroi SC and ROC Charleroi in soccer. Charleroi also has the Stade du Pays de Charleroi, which is a stadium that can hold up to 30,000 people. Those who wish to pursue a job in the sports industry will have very good luck in this city.

Charleroi is also home to the Forem's headquarters (a regional employment agency in Wallonia) and to Société Wallonne du Crédit Social (the Walloon company for social loans).

What's interesting to note about Charleroi doesn't have its own university, even though it's one of Belgium's biggest cities. It wasn't until 1966 that the University of Louvain extended its resources to the city with three available faculties. Other universities have since followed suit, such as the University of Namur, the University of Mons, and the Université libre de Bruxelles. So if you're looking for a job in academics, it might be a little harder to find employment, but not impossible.

Charleroi is actually home to the Brussels South Charleroi Airport, which is located in the municipality of Gosselies. You'll find most flights chartered by Ryanair, but other airlines that fly in and out of the airport are Jetairfly and Wizz Air. This makes Charleroi an attractive place to settle down and work in if you're in the travel industry.

Finding a job in Charleroi

Employment is a priority in Charleroi. Therefore, the city works hand-in-hand with other entities, each dealing with employment and professional insertion. The city is associated with all the major actors in Belgium within the employment sector (towns, employment agencies, private companies, federal and regional ministries, agencies dealing with employment for disabled people).

In general, you can find a job in Charleroi by browsing online pages, which is common to do practically all around the world. LinkedIn is a popular page to use, especially since European headhunters frequently use this platform to reach out to potential candidates. It also has a job search function, as well as features to help you advance your interview and resume-building skills. So we'd recommend starting here if you prefer to use the internet for job searching.

The different actors in the employment sector

People come from all walks of life, so it's only reasonable that agencies are created to help those in unique situations. In addition, Charleroi does its best to help with employment, which is why you'll find several actors in the employment sector. Here are some of the key players.

Walloon Agency for the Integration of the Disabled (Agence wallonne pour l'intégration des personnes handicapées or A.W.H.I.P. in Belgian)

This public institution ensures that the Walloon policy to integrate disabled people at work is respected. It helps candidates to find a job or professional training. The A.W.H.I.P. even helps the disabled with financial benefits when they need equipment and ensures they're independent.

This agency has all the power when it comes to benefits and services given to the disabled. The A.W.H.I.P. has the power to train, employ, counsel, welcome, and house the disabled.

Sub-Regional Comity for Training and Employment in Charleroi (Comité Subrégional de l'Emploi et de la Formation or CSEF in Belgium)

The CSEF offers services and job offers to field operators. It helps the Walloon region and promotes entrepreneurship. So if you need assistance getting your business off the ground, it might be worth it to get in touch with the CSEF. They can also help with vocational training and employment, as well as integration.

Public Center for Social Action (Centres Publics d'Action Sociale or CPAS in Belgium)

Each town in Belgium has its own CPAS, or Centres Publics d'Action Sociale (“Public Center for Social Action” in English). And each one has an employment section that links candidates with social actors within the region.

More importantly, they are your advocate for a good quality of life. If you ever find yourself disadvantaged, contact them and their social workers can assess your situation and take the appropriate actions to ensure you have dignified living conditions.

L'ONEM ( Office National de l'Emploi or National Bureau for Employment)

This is a public institution dealing with social security, unemployment benefits, unemployment insurance, and other measures concerning employment. If you ever want to take some time off for any personal reason, you should contact L'ONEM, as they'll be able to help you sort it out.

Le Forem

This service is dedicated to counseling, orientating, and informing job seekers. Not only can you find a job through Le Forem, but you can also ask for employment assistance and discover promising professions you might've never even thought about before.

The Employment Ministry in the Walloon Region

This institution promotes job training and employment. It enforces the legislation for foreign workers and implements the Marshall Plan 2.

Public and Federal Service for Employment, Work and Social Dialogue (Federal Public Service or FPS in Belgium)

This institution is similar to a Trade Union and creates contacts between workers and employers. They deal specifically with international postings, so if you run into any trouble, this is one of the first places you should try.

They're also specifically focused on the well-being of workers, so if you feel like your workplace isn't somewhere safe to be, this is where to report your concerns to.

Regional Mission for Insertion and Employment in Charleroi (Mission Régionale pour l'Insertion et l'Emploi à Charleroi or MIREC in Belgium)

This association works with professionals from the socio-professional insertion sector. They're dedicated to fighting discrimination and exclusion of people in the workforce, so you can count on them being an advocate for you if you're in need.

Charleroi Enterprises

This is a site that's gathered all the building companies in one place (construction, restoration, carpentry, etc.). If you're in any of these industries, it can be worth a look. Not only can you possibly find a job, but it'll also be easier to network and find future gigs as well.

Work permits

Those who come from a country in the European Union (EU), European Economic Area (EEA), or Switzerland won't need to apply for a work permit, thanks to freedom of movement. You can just move to Charleroi, find a job, apply, and get hired immediately, which can make you a more attractive candidate.

Otherwise, you'll have to apply for either an A, B, or C permit, depending on your personal situation. Learn more about Belgian work permits by reading this article.

Salaries

As a frame of reference, you should know that Belgium's minimum wage is €1,625.72 per month. When compared to the rest of Europe, this amount is quite high. However, it's offset by the country's high tax rates. Depending on how much you're paid, income taxes will be between 20-25%.

Belgium's minimum wage is already quite high, so you'll be even happier to learn that the average full-time worker makes €3,558 a month. And this number jumps to €5,330 per month if they have a master's degree.

In Charleroi, the average salary is €5,747.66 per month. This means it's very possible for you to earn a wage that's higher than the average master's degree holder's, even if you don't have a master's degree yourself.

Income taxes

While earning an income in Belgium, you'll have to pay taxes on it. But how much you pay will depend on your residency status.

If you're only in Belgium temporarily and aren't legally considered a resident, then you only have to pay taxes on the income you make in Belgium. But if you're a legal Belgian resident, then all of your income is taxed, regardless of where it's coming from (for instance, if you're a freelancer and have an American client, you'll be taxed on that income too).

The Belgian tax authorities will write you if you owe them taxes. So all you have to do is wait. If you do receive a letter from them, then the deadline to pay your taxes is June 30 every year.

To help offset income taxes, the Belgian government does offer some credit back for expats. For those who are eligible, you'll get €11,000 back yearly as tax-free allowances.

Commuting to work

There are several ways you can get to work in Charleroi, depending on where you live and how far you are from the city.

For those who live a good distance away, you'll be pleased to that there's a rail system that connects Charleroi with basically all the major Belgian cities, such as Brussels, Namur, and Mons. It takes just 30 to 40 minutes to get to Charleroi from the latter two cities, and 50 minutes from Brussels. You'd take the train and get off in the main station, Charleroi-South. However, it's also possible to get off the station at Charleroi-West if that places you closer to work. You'll have to take the Charleroi-to-Ottignies line.

If you'd like to take public transportation in the city, then you should know that the company that provides this service is Transport En Commun (TEC). This is unique to the Walloon region. You can take the several bus lines available or the light-rail metro, also known as Métro Léger de Charleroi. There were huge ambitions for the Charleroi Metro back in the 1960s, but it ended up a huge failure with only parts of its plans realized. As a result, there are only the central loop and two branches, as opposed to the original plan of eight branch lines. To get around, you can take the central loop and the Gilly branch to as far as Soleilmont, or you can take the Gosselies branch as a street-level tram.

Of course, you can always choose to drive to work like many other Belgians do. In that case, you can get to Charleroi by taking the E42 motorway if you're coming from Namur or Mons. Otherwise, if you're coming from Brussels, you can take the E19 towards Mons and then get on the A54 at Nivelles to get to Charleroi.

If you're interested in using a rideshare service to get to work from time to time, you should know that rideshares are only available in Brussels, but this extends to Mons and Charleroi as well. So if you need to use a rideshare service in a pinch, you can get around these three cities for work.

Work culture

In general, you can expect the workplace to have a mixture of French and Dutch management styles.

The main one used is French management, which is a top-down approach. This means that the higher-ups are pretty much the only voices for decisions. However, there's been a shift to a more egalitarian management style, which the Dutch favor. This allows employees to give input on key projects and decisions.

Useful links:

LinkedIn

Stepstone

Monster

Glassdoor

We do our best to provide accurate and up to date information. However, if you have noticed any inaccuracies in this article, please let us know in the comments section below.