New Membership Category

Most, if not all, of our Full and Local Members rely on freelance relocation consultants during busy periods. As freelancers, they are able to jump in and help out where needed, covering everything from orientation tours to school visits and more. As such, it is important they receive the same level of training as any other relocation consultant.

With the creation of this new membership category, Freelance Members will be able to access the EuRA Managing International Mobility training for free, just like any other ABRA member. Freelance Members will also be invited to join the quarterly ABRA Member Meetings, where they will be able to network with peers and partners.

The ABRA Board has decided on launching this membership category at the exceptionally democratic rate of €25 to ensure widespread take up. We look forward to welcoming Freelance Members as of November 1st, 2019, and thank our Full and Local Members for helping us spread the word.

Free Access to EuRA Training

Over the years the partnership between ABRA and EuRA has gone from strength to strength, as together we seek to raise the bar in service delivery while sharing knowledge and insights from the industry. Many ABRA members already enjoy the many benefits of EuRA membership, including the annual relocation conference and free access to their outstanding online training programme.

We’re delighted to have negotiated some of the same benefits for ABRA members, courtesy of EuRA. As an ABRA member, you are now able to access the Managing International Mobility – or MIM for short – training for free, whether or not you are a EuRA member. Comprising 23 lessons in all, Module 1 can now be followed whenever and wherever you like. Simply pick up where you left off when you log in to the EuRA Academy app.

There will be four modules in total, three of which are currently under development. Training is entirely free for EuRA and ABRA members, however if you’d like to be accredited there is a small admin fee to be paid. To receive your ABRA member coupon code, contact ABRA Secretary Fiona Klomp on

Relocation Committee

Our Relocation Committee, comprising Eric Klitsch of Brussels Relocation and Pauline Six from Bright Expats, has recently been joined by new board member Liesbeth Van de Meersche of The MAP Group. With Eric taking over as ABRA President, the Relocation Committee would love to attract additional members, so if you feel you would be able to offer your support, please reach out to us. Volunteers for this committee should be Full or Local Members. Together, the RC promotes the industry of relocation, works towards recognition of ABRA, legal and other compliance matters.

This year, the focus has been firmly on 1000 Brussels as the situation is becoming worse by the day. The Fast Track desk has imploded under the backlog, and registration of expats takes an inordinate amount of time. As such, the Relocation Committee has built a core team to work on a new procedure. We look forward to keeping you updated on further progress.

ABRA Vice President Pauline Six joined a Round Table in Etterbeek at the start of the year, which involved different institutions that support or work with expats located in the Etterbeek area. Their APProach project aims to develop e-services for citizens and improve expat inclusion in the municipality. Around half the 50,000 residents in Etterbeek are foreigners thanks to the EU institutions, with some 2% leaving or arriving annually.

Membership Committee

While we lost a few members throughout the year due to changing contact persons, our Membership Committee has made every effort to attract even more new members to our association. Katrien Van den Waeyenbergh of Partena Business and Expats, Sandra Van Bellingen of BBF and Fabienne Vanderkelen of Altair Global, contacted some 150 potential new members by direct mail towards the end of last year and followed this up with a personal phone call.

Their approach has proven very successful, with 13 new members joining ABRA this year. This brings our total membership to 77 members, of which 15 are Full Members, 1 Local Member and 64 Affiliate Members. With the creation of the new Freelance Membership, we are looking forward to further growing our ABRA family.

It remains the goal of the Membership Committee to ensure that we not only see an increase in new members, but also that current ABRA Members are pleased with their membership. So if you have any questions, concerns, or have a potential new member in mind, please reach out to Katrien, Fabienne and Sandra anytime via

Communications Committee

The ABRA website continues to remain a useful reference tool, with the period between May 2018 and May 2019 attracting 23,067 unique visitors over 42,000 times. Between them, they viewed 274,524 pages, representing a growth of almost 20% in visitors and a 70% rise in page views from previous years.

As such, we’d like to remind all ABRA Members that if you’ve published a white paper, have conducted an important study or have other industry relevant news, you can share it on our newsfeed and social media channels. If you haven’t received your guide to publishing with ABRA, then reach out to Fiona via for your personal copy.

Having chaired the Communications Committee for eight years, Fiona has handed over Chairmanship to Salvatore Orlando of BNP Paribas Fortis. The committee is very keen to attract new members with experience in media and/or marketing to help expand our partnerships, advertising and promotion of the industry. Any ABRA Member can join the Communications Committee, so please do reach out to us if this sounds like you.

Events Committee

From ‘How to prepare your business for a Deal or No Deal Brexit’ to ‘The Expat Method: Mastering Personal and Organisational Change’, the keynote speakers at our Member Meetings have been varied, thought provoking and informative. Thank you to speakers Sara Bigwood, Leadership Development Coach and Family Strategist, Christine Sullivan of Fragomen Global Immigration Services, Michael Penning of the Community Help Service, Simon Poppe of Allia Insurance Brokers and Michael Dale, Life Coach, Facilitator and Author of ‘The 7 Core Needs’.

Our gratitude also goes out to our recent meeting hosts DY Patil International School, Partena, IDSB, ING Brussels, Aspria Royal la Rasante and their speakers, as well as upcoming hosts Da Vinci International School in Antwerp.

We have a number of topics and speakers in the pipeline, however we are always interested in your suggestions. Please to reach out to Dave Deruytter of ING and Alexander De Nys of Fragomen with your suggestions and thoughts. You are also most welcome to join our Events Committee if you would like to help shape our event programme moving forward.

Considering joining one of our Committees? We’d love to hear from you! Positions are on a voluntary basis, however you are expected to be available for a number of short meetings throughout the year, as well as be able to help implement any planned points of action. Contact to find out more.

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The Forces Shaping the Future

“The pace of change is accelerating. Competition for the right talent is fierce. And ‘talent’ no longer means the same as ten years ago; many of the roles, skills and job titles of tomorrow are unknown to us today,” says Carol Stubbings, Global Leader People and Organisation, PwC, in her foreword. “How can organisations prepare for a future that few of us can define? How will your talent needs change? How can you attract, keep and motivate the people you need? And what does all this mean for HR? The ‘Four Worlds of Work’ for 2030 report aims to kickstart your thinking about the many possible scenarios that could develop, and how to best prepare for the future. Remember that your starting point matters as much as your destination; the best response may mean radical change, or perhaps just a few steps from where you are today.”


The megatrends are the tremendous forces reshaping society and with it, the world of work: the economic shifts that are redistributing power, wealth, competition and opportunity around the globe; the disruptive innovations, radical thinking, new business models and resource scarcity that are impacting every sector. Businesses need a clear and meaningful purpose and mandate to attract and retain employees, customers and partners in the decade ahead. How humans respond to the challenges and opportunities which the megatrends bring will determine the worlds in which the future of work plays out.

∞ Technological Breakthroughs
Automation, robotics and AI are advancing quickly, dramatically changing the nature and number of jobs available. Technology has the power to improve our lives, raising productivity, living standards and average life span, and free people to focus on personal fulfilment.
∞ Demographic Shifts
With a few regional exceptions the world’s population is ageing, putting pressure on business, social institutions and economies. Our longer life span will affect business models, talent ambitions and pension costs.
∞ Rapid Urbanisation
By 2030, the UN projects that 4.9 billion people will be urban dwellers and, by 2050, the world’s urban population will have increased by some 72%. Already, many of the largest cities have GDPs larger than mid-size countries.
∞ Shifts in Global Economic Power
The rapidly developing nations, particularly those with a large working-age population, that embrace a business ethos, attract investment and improve their education system will gain the most. Emerging nations face the biggest challenge as technology increases the gulf with the developed world.
∞ Resource Scarcity and Climate Change
Demand for energy and water is forecast to increase by as much as 50% and 40% respectively by 2030. New types of jobs in alternative energy, new engineering processes, product design and waste management and re-use will need to be created to deal with these needs.


■ The Red World: a perfect incubator for innovation with few rules
New products and business models develop at lightning speed, far more quickly than regulators can control. Big business is outflanked in a digital-enabled world that’s teeming with small entrepreneurial companies. Digital platforms match worker with employer, skills with demand, capital with innovator, and consumer with supplier. This allows serial entrepreneurs to reach far beyond their size in terms of influence and scale. Anxious to compete, larger employers fragment to create their own internal markets and networks to cut through old-style hierarchies. Specialism is highly prized in the Red World and a career, rather than being defined by an employer or institution, is built from individual blocks of skills, experience and networks. The most sought-after skills mean the biggest reward package and workers move frequently, staying only as long as the project or business lasts.

■ The Blue World: capitalism reigns supreme
In the Blue World, companies see their size and influence as the best way to protect their prized profit margins against intense competition from their peers and aggressive new market entrants. Corporations grow to such a scale, and exert such influence, that some become more powerful than nation states. Workforces are lean and exceptional talent is in high demand – employers secure a core group of pivotal high-performers by offering excellent rewards but otherwise buy in flexible talent and skills as and when they’re needed. Human effort, automation, analytics and innovation combine to push performance in the workplace to its limits; human effort is maximised through sophisticated use of physical and medical enhancement techniques and equipment, and workers’ performance and wellbeing are measured, monitored and analysed at every step. A new breed of elite super-workers emerges.

■ The Green World: companies have to care
In the Green World, corporate responsibility isn’t just a nice-to-have – it’s a business imperative. Companies are open, collaborative organisations that see themselves as playing an essential role in developing their employees and supporting local communities. Reacting to public opinion, increasingly scarce natural resources and stringent international regulations, companies push a strong ethical and green agenda. This is characterised by a strong social conscience, a sense of environmental responsibility, a focus on diversity, human rights and fairness of all kinds and a recognition that business has an impact that goes well beyond the financial. Employees enjoy family-friendly, flexible hours and are encouraged to take part in socially useful projects.

■ The Yellow World: we’re all in this together
In the Yellow World, workers and companies seek out greater meaning and relevance in what they do. A strong desire for ‘fairness’ in the distribution of wealth, resources and privilege drives public policy. Workers find flexibility, autonomy and fulfilment, working for organisations with a strong social and ethical record. This is the collective response to business fragmentation; the desire to do good, for the common good. Technology helps by lowering barriers to entry by providing easy access to crowdfunded capital and a worldwide market. The Yellow World is the perfect breeding ground for the emergence of new worker Guilds that develop in order to protect, support and connect independent workers, often providing training and other benefits that have traditionally been supplied by employers.


PwC’s Four Worlds of Work are each markedly different, but through each runs the vein of automation and the implications of robotics and AI. It’s clear that automation will result in a massive reclassification and rebalancing of work. Some sectors and roles, even entire sections of the workforce will lose out but others will be created. Automation will not only alter the types of jobs available but their number and perceived value. By replacing workers doing routine, methodical tasks, machines can amplify the comparative advantage of those workers with problem-solving, leadership, EQ (Emotional Intelligence), empathy and creativity skills. This view is supported by business leaders worldwide who responded to PwC’s most recent CEO survey. While CEOs are keen to maximise the benefits of automation – 52% told us that they’re already exploring the benefits of humans and machines working together and 39% are considering the impact of AI on their future skills needs – the majority (52%) were also planning to increase headcount in the coming 12 months. Finding the skills they need has become the biggest threat to their business, they say, but the skills they’re looking for are particularly telling: problem-solving, adaptability, collaboration, leadership, creativity and innovation top the list.

For the full report, please visit the PwC website:

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Expats and internationals must rely on reputation, information and intuition when making the big choice. Instead of a list of top tips, let’s look at some important questions you can pose when contemplating a new school for your child(ren).

What accreditations does the school have?
Some schools are accredited by the Council of International Schools, some by the European Union, others are accredited by the Council of British International Schools. Whichever accreditation you rely on, these bodies have been set up to ensure the schools adhere to solid educational policies.

Where is the school located?
Sometimes we have the opportunity to choose the school first, then set up sticks based on that. The school run can be a thing of joy or a daily disaster depending on journey times, traffic, whether the school operates a bus service or is equipped for before or after school care. Take the time to research public transport links, travel time and the specifics of the bus services a school offers and incorporate those into your decision making process.

“Moving to a big city where spaces are limited and classes are overcrowded? Look for alternatives in the countryside: studying in a healthy environment might be more easily accessible than you think.”
Erica Di Maccio – European School MOL

How much will it cost?
For those parents who are paying the school fees out of their own purse, there are a few points to consider:

• What is included in the actual school fees?
• What application fees need to be paid?
• Are there annual administrative fees?
• What extracurricular activities are included in the school fees?
• If there are optional school trips, what are the costs of those?
• If the school has a cafeteria, how much does the food cost?

How does the school prepare my child for possible future transitions?
Yes, you have just moved, or are preparing to move and aren’t keen on the prospect of calling the movers again anytime soon, however this point is key for those families that move about quite a bit. This question refers to future schools they will attend on your next assignment, commission or project, or the next phase of their school lives, be it secondary or tertiary. These times of transition can be hard on children, and schools offering inclusion support can make a difference to how quickly your child adapts to their present school, and any schools, colleges or universities they may attend in the future. Some schools take a great interest in helping children cope with change. Ensure you cover this with the admissions team when sizing up a school, they are there to help answer your queries and address your concerns.

What curriculum does the school follow? And to what extent?
Schools differ greatly in the curricula that they offer. Some are broad-based and are adaptable to a number of educational possibilities in other countries. Others offer a curriculum set by a specific country that enables your child to continue their education or transition back to their home land more easily. Others yet again follow a curriculum set out by a country however they do not follow it to the letter. This is more particularly a consideration for parents of secondary school children, each year the children progress the more important it becomes to be aware of the subjects on offer and the public examinations that the school can prepare the students for.

“The curriculum will be key, as is the choice of subjects for example. Does the school offer A Levels, IB, vocational BTEC courses or a mix of all three?”
Kim Burgess – British School of Brussels

What are the class sizes?
This one can be a deal breaker, depending on the personality of your child. Large class sizes are great for children who excel in situations where the learning environment is lively, fast paced, independent and utilise group-work due to less one-on-one time from teachers. Other students prefer a quieter, more structured and more supportive classroom experience. This is often a more productive environment for those students attending a new school in a new language. Large and small class sizes have both advantages and disadvantages, knowing what best suits your child’s approach to learning goes a long way in helping to decide on the right school, and nurturing their learning styles.

What assistance can the school provide in cases of special educational needs?
Parents of a child with special educational needs require extra support. Some schools have a comprehensive approach to ensuring your child progresses and enjoys their time at school. A few more questions for these parents could be:
• does the school have a special learning programme tailored to suit my child’s needs?
• will my child receive extra help from a teacher or teacher’s assistant?
• will there be possibilities to work in smaller groups?
• how much feedback can I expect from the school?
• and for those children with special physical needs, is there support with physical or personal care difficulties, e.g. eating, getting around school safely or using the toilet?

What if my child does not speak English yet, or doesn’t speak it well?
Especially in cases where you are moving your child from a non-English speaking school to an English speaking school, bilingual school or immersion school, the support that the school offers for English as an Additional Language (EAL), reading, spelling or writing support can be crucial to your child’s English language development. Schools promoting EAL extracurricular activities, learning support groups and specialised teaching expertise are open to fielding questions you have on this topic. Don’t be afraid to ask the specifics of what they offer and ensure you are aware how they not only can assist but also motivate and encourage your little learner.

What’s the difference between bilingual and immersion schools?
Most especially in a country like Belgium, where there are three official languages, the options available for bilingual learning and immersion learning are broad and it can be difficult to differentiate. Here’s a quick breakdown:
• Bilingual learning: a school offers academic content in two languages. The split between the time spent in each language can vary from school to school. 30%-70% or 50%-50%. The schools offering bilingual programmes will expect that your child is a native speaker of one of the languages offered and can speak the second language fluently.
• Immersion learning: these programs are designed to help native and non-native speakers become bilingual and biliterate. There are many support structures in place to help your child learn the second target language and develop their skills across all subjects.

Is there a parent support association or network?
Moving to a new city or country is a big step for the whole family. Some schools have vast communities and networks where parents can share information and give each other support. They can offer support via weekly catch-ups, through social media, or operating a buddy system. These big changes can often be quite daunting for spouses, who can only benefit from making a new network of friends. These school communities help families feel more quickly at ease in their new surroundings and enable parents to be a more stable source of support for their children.

What extracurricular activities are on offer?
Again, these vary greatly from school to school. These activities offer opportunities for your child to broaden their social networks, gain experience in sports, the arts and languages and generally enrich their international schooling experience.

Questions answered, what next?
Once you have collated the answers to these questions, the next step is to arrange a visit to the school to get a feel for the teaching styles, compare the proximity of the school to where you live, and generally soak up the atmosphere.

There are massive differences between schools regarding school visits. Some schools require a non-refundable payment of the administration fees before you can even set foot on the grounds – others may invite you to check out classes in action and even eat lunch in the cafeteria. Ensure you are clear about school visits and how these are carried out.
Some schools offer the option of “transition days” or “step-in days” where your child can experience what it will be like at their new school before the new academic year or term begins. This can be a great advantage to nervous students and take the edge off the sometimes overwhelming feeling on the first day.

“Meet the head teacher! You can tell a lot about a school from a quick chat with the head. After all, you are going to be leaving your precious children in their care every day. Ask them what they believe in, what they value and what their vision is for the school and then sit back and listen for 10 minutes.”
Brett Neilson – St Paul’s British Primary School

It’s also a great idea to take the time to speak to families already enrolled at the school. The school should be able to put you in contact with the established community networks. Families are usually open to discussing their views on the school and how their children respond to the teaching style and curriculum.

Choosing the right school is never an easy task, but we hope the above guide will help set you off on the right foot with this important decision.

A special thank you goes out to all our member schools who contributed to this article. You can find a full list of our members (and member schools) by visiting us online:

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