How employers and landlords in Switzerland 'discriminate against Swiss citizens of immigrant origin'

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How employers and landlords in Switzerland 'discriminate against Swiss citizens of immigrant origin'

People who are not of Swiss origin, including those of EU backgrounds, have less chances of getting a job or an apartment, a new study has shown.


Immigrants who become Swiss citizens, but who have distinctly foreign names or are visibly of other ethnic backgrounds, don’t have the same opportunities to get hired as their native Swiss counterparts, the studies reveal.

Studies conducted by National Center of Competence in Research, which analyses migration and mobility in Switzerland, revealed that citizens with foreign backgrounds must submit 30 percent more applications than native Swiss candidates in order to be invited to a job interview — even if their qualifications are the same.

The survey, which studied both language regions in Switzerland said: "Results show that children of immigrants holding Swiss qualifications and dual nationality need to send 30% more applications to receive a call-back for an interview when applying for apprenticeship level occupations. Chances of dual citizens to be invited to a job interview are largely the same across linguistic regions.

Explaining the reason for the study, the authors spell out the context of immigrants and the labour market in Switzerland.

"Two-thirds of the Swiss immigrant population holds passports of EU or EFTA countries, with Italy, Germany, Portugal and France being the most important countries of origin, followed by countries such as Kosovo, Macedonia, Serbia, Croatia and Bosnia that were part of the Former Yugoslavia, and Turkey.

"While employment rates and wages of immigrants are high in international comparison, immigrants are still disadvantaged: their unemployment rates are higher and salaries are lower than those of native Swiss."

"Furthermore, there is evidence that the second generation in particular faces discrimination in the Swiss labour market, e.g. when looking for apprenticeships (Imdorf 2008). Such constraints on foreign born residents’ social mobility can have long term repercussions for a meritocratic society."

Interestingly Swiss nationals whose parents are from EU backgrounds also face discrimination the study found.

"Hiring discrimination affects also applicants whose parents came from EU neighbouring countries. German-origin candidates experience the highest discrimination rate in one specific occupation," the study reads.

But as confirmed by researchers Switzerland is no exception and similar discrimination against job applicants from immigrant backgrounds exists in other countries across Europe.

But where Switzerland lags behind other countries is in acknowledging there is a problem.

"Switzerland is no exception to this trend of a rising “second generation” and of more stringent evidence of its unequal treatment in the labour market," writes the study.

"Similarly, while reflecting the ethnic composition of the immigrant-origin resident population, the ethnic ranking observed in Switzerland echoes findings in other European countries. However, contrary to other European countries, there is no acute awareness of this issue in Switzerland.

"The relatively low unemployment rate in international comparison may make hiring discrimination less visible, to the extent that it does not necessarily lead to unemployment, as is the case elsewhere."

Other research shows that a similar phenomenon affects the search for apartments.

Sociologists from the Universities of Geneva, Neuchâtel and Lausanne conducted an experimental study on ethnic discrimination in the Swiss housing market by sending 11,000 fictitious applications in response to real estate advertisements.

They found that candidates with Kosovar or Turkish names were not given as many opportunities to view apartments as non-foreign applicants.

In Switzerland, as in European Union nations, racial discrimination is illegal. In practice, however,  such cases do occur.

In a government survey, more than 33 percent of Swiss reported being uncomfortable around people perceived to be “different” because of their nationality, religion, or skin colour.


Photo: karkozphoto/Depositphotos






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