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Boom in job ads after rules favouring Swiss-based workers launched

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Boom in job ads after rules favouring Swiss-based workers launched
Swiss firms seeking warehouse staff must first post jobs with regional unemployment agencies, File photo: Depositphotos
11:01 CEST+02:00
New Swiss labour rules introduced last year in a bid to give Swiss-based workers in certain industries preference over workers from other parts of the EU have led to a much higher than expected number of job ads.

Under the rules that came into force in July 2018, Swiss employers must advertise open positions in occupations with an unemployment level of eight percent or over via regional unemployment (RAV/ORP) offices for five working days before they are advertised publicly.

Jobs placed via the RAV are posted on an online platform which can only be accessed by job seekers registered officially with Swiss authorities.

A total of 17 occupations are currently subject to the regime, including everything from agricultural workers to actors.

READ ALSO: Switzerland will need half a million extra workers in the next 10 years but immigration 'is not the only answer'

Authorities were expecting the new system to generate around 55,000 job ads a year but a preliminary analysis carried out by Swiss broadsheet NZZ shows a figure of around 200,000 ads in the first 12 months.

In addition to the ads for jobs in occupations where posting on regional unemployment platforms was compulsory, there were also a large number of voluntary postings for other positions.

Too early to tell if new regime is working

The new job posting rules are part of the Swiss government’s attempts to deal with the fall-out of a 2014 referendum in which Swiss voters backed plans to limit EU immigration to the country.

Fearing that relations with the EU would be irreparably damaged if Switzerland backed away from its commitments under its freedom of movement treaty with Brussels, the Swiss parliament in late 2016 passed a watered-down version of the original legislation.

This included new rules on unemployment designed to limit the impact of foreign workers on the domestic job market – hence the current job posting regime.

READ ALSO: Revealed - how much foreign workers in Switzerland earn

But despite the much higher than expected number of job ads generated by the new regime in its first 12 months, federal authorities are withholding judgement on whether Swiss-based workers are actually being advantaged.

According to the NZZ, the Swiss government won’t be making any public statements on the success or failure of the regime until autumn next year at the earliest.

The canton of Zurich has been a bit more forthcoming. It says it handled around 24,000 compulsory job postings from July 2018 to July 2019. Around 3,500 job candidates were referred to employers and some 1,500 of those people scored jobs.

Job definitions are too broad

Meanwhile, the response from industry players has been mixed. The president of gastronomy industry body GastroSuisse, Casimir Platzer, told NZZ that firms are currently obliged to post jobs with the RAV even when they knew they won’t not find suitably qualified personnel in this way.

Part of the problem is that job definitions in the regime are too broad with qualified personnel and unskilled workers being placed in the same basket.

There are also concerns about what will happen next year when the threshold for high-unemployment occupations drops to five percent. This will see companies required to post a lot more jobs with the RAV.

On the positive front, it appears that authorities and industry have managed to come up with arrangements designed to tighten up job definitions, with a clearer distinction made between low-skilled positions and more qualified roles, for which firms are more likely to look overseas for suitable candidates.

But the process of getting the mix right is expected to be ongoing.

READ ALSO: Explained - what it's really like living in Switzerland

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