Refugees get 'priority over foreigners' for jobs

Malcolm Curtis
Malcolm Curtis - [email protected]

The federal government is backing moves by the cantons, municipalities and employers’ groups to give priority to hiring refugees living in Switzerland over workers from outside the country.


The initiative approved by voters in February 2014 to cap immigration is giving impetus to this policy, which aims to see 2,000 refugees hired between now and 2016 under plans presented on Monday in Bern.

The policy aims to reduce bureaucratic hurdles, such as scrapping the tax levied against employers who engage people on a provisional basis.

The government also plans to improve information about the ways refugees can be hired.

In a pilot project, the Red Cross has agreed to train 500 refugees as health auxiliaries.

“The integration of immigrants is not a charitable goal,” Simonetta Sommaruga, Swiss President and cabinet minister responsible for refugees told the conference, according to a report from the ATS news agency.

“These measures are being put in place because it is financially sensible, in the interest of the domestic market and humanely reasonable to encourage the integration of migrants through the job market.”

Currently, only 20 percent of refugees in Switzerland have a job.

“If more of them find work that will improve also their image among the Swiss population,” said Guy Morin, president of the Tripartite Agglomeration Conference (TAK).

The TAK, established in 2001, is a group that brings together representatives of the federal government, the cantons, cities and municipalities to pursue policies for Swiss urban areas.

Paradoxically, “the vote of February 9th encourages the integration of refugees in the workforce”, Morin said, alluding to the immigration restrictions that will come into effect in two years’ time.

Language training is a key part of the programme with “German on the worksite” courses, begun in 2012, being extended and French equivalents to be launched in western Switzerland this year.

The cantons are financing 5,000 language courses involving 100,000 participants, ATS reported.


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