The National Group of Companies with Chauffeured Taxi and Location Vehicles (GTL), the interest group representing the taxi industry, has sounded the alarm about a growing shortage of taxi drivers. According to GTL, the cause of this is the language requirement that the Flemish Government sets for taxi drivers. The organization predicts a 'social and economic carnage' if 8000 Flemish taxi drivers cannot prove that they have mastered the Dutch language at B2024 level by July 1.
GTL extension points out that the high language requirements, which apply to both employees and self-employed drivers, form a barrier to new entry into the sector. Half of the active taxi drivers in Flanders are self-employed who often work for platforms such as Uber and Bolt. They too will have to take an oral and written exam at B1 level, otherwise their driver's pass will be revoked.
GTL calls on Jo Brouns, Flemish Minister of Economy, Lydia Peeters, Flemish Minister of Mobility and Public Works and Ben Weyts, Flemish Deputy Prime Minister responsible for Education, Sport, Animal Welfare and Flemish Rand. They urge them to consider sector-specific language requirements and courses for the taxi driver profession.
Opponents of the relaxation of language requirements emphasize that the problem of staff shortages is not unique to the taxi sector. Many industries are facing similar problems. Moreover, travelers find it important that drivers have a good command of the Dutch language for optimal service.
From a consumer point of view, it is important to strike a balance between service quality and availability of services. If there are fewer drivers, this can lead to longer waiting times and higher prices, which does not benefit consumers. The tension between guaranteeing quality and filling a growing number of vacancies remains a complex issue. The coming months will be crucial in finding a balanced solution that does justice to language and service quality as well as the urgent need for new drivers in the sector