Working in Liege

Liege
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Updated 2021-12-17 12:59

Liège is the economic capital of Wallonia and is a French-speaking city. The area's recently recovered from the recession, which means it's not impossible to find a job.

Economy in Liège

Liège is quite an unusual city. It's home to an airport specializing in air cargo and to the second domestic port in Western Europe (the other is in Ghent). Its inhabitants enjoy a dynamic and modern place to live in.

Liège has always played an essential part in the European economy, as it's always been a vital industrial center. Its most important role was in steel-making. Liège has been supplying iron and steel to the world since 1817. Back then, the city had numerous blast furnaces and mills. Today, it's not as big of a name in steel manufacturing, but the city still contributes a fair amount, enough for it to affect the local economy. Its also been a key player in the arms industry, supplying gunsmithing services as far back as the Middle Ages. Today, the FN Herstal and CMI Defence headquarters are both found right here in Liège.

Industries in Liège

Liège is home to many companies specializing in advanced technology, aviation (e.g. Techspace Aero), and the food and drink industry (e.g. Juliper, Galler). Interestingly enough, Liège University houses many subdivisions of these companies. Techspace Aero is responsible for manufacturing parts for the Airbus A380 and the rocket Ariane5, which means this is a great company to work for if you're pursuing a career in these areas.

Also, Liège Airport is located nearby in Bierset, which is only a few kilometers away. It mainly delivers freight, not passengers, but still provides many jobs in the local area. In fact, in 2011, it was the world's 33rd busiest cargo airport. While it doesn't place in the top 20 for 2020, Liège Airport is still a bustling hub where there are numerous job opportunities.

Other industries that are vital to Liège's economy include mechanical industries (both aircraft and spacecraft), space technology, information technology, and biotechnology. The city also has many companies that manufacture beer, water, and chocolate, so there are many job opportunities to be found in these sectors as well. You might recognize some of the names in this space, as they're well-known in Europe: Galler, Spa, and Chaudfontaine.

What's somewhat unique to this city is its specialization in optical components and air dryers. More specifically, the company Amós manufacturers optical parts for telescopes and Drytec manufactures compressed air dryers. These may be relatively niche sectors, but if you happen to have an interest in or already have experience in these areas, then you'll be a sought-after candidate for positions at these companies.

For those who are interested in the electronics sector, then you'll be pleased to know that Liège is a prime city to be in for that. They have many top names in the industry, such as EVS, AnB, IP Trade, SAP, Gillam, and Balteau.

In addition to advanced technology, Liège also developed multimedia. Despite its small surface of 69.39 square meters, a massive audiovisual complex called Médiacité was built in the city.

Liège also has its own Pôle Image. Médiacité is the headquarters of the RTBF (Radio Télévision Belge Francophone, a public broadcasting organization) and recording studios. Pôle Image of Liège, which replaced an older tobacco company, is composed of companies specializing in audiovisual, 2D and 3D animation, web design, graphic design, cinematography, and post-production process. It naturally became a shooting location for animated and filmed productions, both on a national and international level.

This city is famous for its folk festivals, which as you might imagine, bring in a lot of revenue. It's also known for its nightlife, so the service industry is quite busy and full of job opportunities. For example, there are plenty of pubs and restaurants in the square city block known as Le Carré, and they're known to serve customers up to 6:00 am. These might make perfect jobs for students.

In addition, there's a huge sports culture in Liège. It's home to several soccer teams, including Standard Liège and R.F.C. de Liège, which is actually one of the oldest soccer clubs in all of Belgium. The city also has a stadium, Stade Maurice Dufrasne, which hosts many soccer games throughout the year.

Finding a job in Liège

Jobs in Liege are advertised in local newspapers, job websites online, or can be found through private networks. Today, many job seekers use LinkedIn, as it's an easy-to-use website where pretty much all professionals are registered, as well as companies seeking prime candidates. In fact, many European headhunters find talent through this platform, so it's always a good idea to sign up and touch up your profile if you already have one. It also has other beneficial features, such as resume checkers, interview tips, and more.

If you just arrived in Liège, you need to have a job ready or register at the regional employment agency called Le Forem, in Wallonie. This organization not only helps you with looking for jobs, but it also helps employers recruit, which is also a plus for you. It can also help you with administrative procedures, find out where you're lacking in skills, and train you to be a more attractive candidate. If you're overseas and haven't moved to Belgium yet, you can still use their job search function free of charge, plus create a professional profile. However, the search engine and pages are in French, so you'll have to brush up on French or use Google Translate.

If you already live in Liège and you're unemployed, the city has its own employment agency called ALPEM. This organization's goal is to help people who have been unemployed on a long-term basis and/or those who get benefits to supplement income for a better quality of life. Not only can they help you find employment, but if you have children in your household, they can arrange for childcare so you can go to work. They also have service vouchers for professional housekeeping service and ironing stations.

The following conditions are required to register:

  • Being entirely unemployed and receiving compensation for 2 years for those under 45, and for 6 months for those 45 or older
  • Receive social integration income (entirely or partially) or the equal benefits

Employment agencies are also a good option. Some local ones you can try include SD Worx Staffing Liège, Margalonis, Randstad, Start People, Daoust, Trace, Startpeople, Job Station, Accent Construct Eupen, Bureau de proximité Forem de Seraing, Adecco, and Synergie Liège Careers. It can be helpful to bring an up-to-date resume with you so they have somewhere to start. Once you've spoken to an agency, they can then connect you with jobs that you're suited for.

Employment rate

The employment rate in Liège was 59.6% and the unemployment rate was 7.9% in 2020. The employment rate for this city is slightly lower than the national average (61.1%) and the unemployment rate is slightly higher than the national average (6.01%). However, these things shouldn't be cause for concern, as they're not significantly higher and there are plenty of job opportunities.

Work permits

Whether or not you'll need a work permit will depend on where you're originally from. Citizens of the European Union (EU), European Economic Area (EEA), and Switzerland won't have to get work permits. It'll be an easy and straightforward process since you can move to Belgium and start working without any additional paperwork or wait time. This can give you a leg up on competitors in your field since employers will want to hire you over them.

If you're from outside of those nations, then you'll have a bit more work to do. There are 3 types of work permits in Belgium: type A, B, and C. The exact one you'll need will depend on your personal situation. For example, if you're not yet in the country, then you'll probably need work permit B since the employer will recruit you from abroad.

Salaries

By moving to Belgium alone, you'll get better pay than in most other parts of Europe. The minimum wage here is €1,625.72 per month, which is on the higher end of the spectrum. There's a caveat though; income taxes are also higher. You'll have to pay between 20-50%, depending on which tax bracket you fall under.

Because the minimum wage is quite high, the nation's average salary is as well. On average, Belgians earn €3,558 per month as full-time employees. When you look at those with master's degrees, the average is even higher at €5,330 per month.

As for Liège itself, the average salary is €67,296 per year, or €5,608 per month. So if you can find employment in this city, you'll enjoy great pay since this is way above minimum wage and even higher than the average master degree holder's salary in Belgium.

Taxes

Along with working in Liège, you might be wondering about the taxes that come with your salary, especially since we mentioned that you'll have to pay between 20-50%. This will be dependent on what residency status you have in Belgium.

If you're only in the country temporarily and aren't considered a legal resident, then the taxes you pay are only applicable to the money you make from Belgian clients. But if you have a residence card, then you'll be taxed on all the money you make in the country, regardless of where your clients are located.

Not everyone owes taxes every year, but if you do, the tax authorities will let you know. This means you won't have to do anything yourself, as they'll contact you. You'll then have until June 30 to pay the amount.

If you're worried about paying taxes and it eating into your income, you'll be relieved to know that Belgium offers some tax-free allowances for expats. For those who are eligible, you can claim around €11,000 a year.

Commuting in Liège

Driving gives you more autonomy to get to and from work, so this might be your preferred mode of transportation. The good news is that Liège is right in the middle of many highways, so traveling to and from work will be simple. You'll be able to travel on the European route E25, E42, E40, and E313 in Liège. Also, because of the city's location, it has great direct connections to Antwerp and Rotterdam as well. The city is linked to Antwerp through the Albert Canal and to Rotterdam through the river Maas/Meuse.

If you're coming from further, there's a good rail system that connects Liège to most of Western Europe. There are three main stations in Liège: Liège-Guillemins, Liège-Carré, and Liège-Saint-Lambert stations. You can also take the Intercity Express and Thalys trains to Cologne and Frankfurt in Germany, or Paris-Nord in France. Do note that these trains only call at Liège-Guillemins.

Once in the city, unfortunately, you won't be able to get around by tram or metro. Liège used to have a tram system but they were removed in 1967 and were supposed to be replaced by a metro system instead. The tunnel for the system was dug underneath Liège, but that was as far as they got. For decades, the metro system was untouched. Then, it was supposed to be open to commuters in 2017. However, they've only just started laying down the rails in April 2021, so it'll probably be a little bit before you're able to use the metro.

Work culture

If you're used to a top-down work culture, then you'll feel right at home in Liège workplaces. They follow the French management style and the majority of people here speak French as well.

But in recent years, employers have been changing their management styles and switching to a more Dutch approach. This means the workplace is laxer, with employees viewed at a more equal level with their superiors. As a result, not only do workers get more of a voice, but they also have closer relationships with their higher-ups.

Useful links:

Stepstone

Monster

Manpower

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