Flemish AI public employment service

Amidst government plans to invest €30 million in AI infrastructure, the Flemish government has created an algorithm to streamline the process of job applicants using the public employment service  (VDAB) (AlgorithmWatch 2019). The system creates profiles of job applicants based on their online behavioral data, predicting their interests and job suitability. Job seeker’s motivation to secure employment is tracked by the algorithm based on information regarding their activity, communication response rate, and frequency of usage of the VDAB (ibid). 

The system has faced criticism regarding its implications for the privacy of job seekers as well as exacerbating pre-existing inequalities. Caroline Copers, the general secretary of the Flemish wing of ABVV, argues that the job seekers who require the most assistance from the public employment service of Flanders will be disadvantaged by the algorithmic system (ibid). Because this demographic has lower rates of digital literacy and computer usage, the system may identify them as lacking motivation and penalize them in the job application process.