Swiss with ‘foreign-sounding’ names ‘less likely to get job interviews’

Swiss with a migration background are required to send in one-third more applications in order to get a job interview, regardless of their qualifications or experience.

Swiss with ‘foreign-sounding' names 'less likely to get job interviews'
Photo: Depositphotos

A team of researchers from the Swiss Forum for the Study of Migration at the University of Neuchâtel tested identical resumes, changing only the names. 

Where the CV included a foreign-sounding name, applicants were required to send 30 percent more resumes in order to get a job interview, when compared with applicants with ‘traditional’ Swiss-sounding names.

Swiss with backgrounds from Kosovo, Cameroon and Morocco are among the most discriminated against, despite being born in Switzerland and having achieved identical qualifications.

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

Rosita Fibbi, one of the authors of the report, said the goal was to get a better perspective on the nature of discrimination in applying for work. 

“This study aimed to take stock of the situation of the integration of the children of migrants who grew up here, who have the same qualifications and who know the language, to find out if, on the labour market, they manage to argue their qualifications exactly like Swiss of Swiss parents,” Fibbi said. 

The discrimination was especially high for Swiss of Kosovar origin, who needed to send 40 percent more applications in order to get a call back. 

Fibbi said the results showed that job seekers' concerns about the existence of discrimination were well-founded. 

“Often, the difficulties of access to employment for migrants and their children are explained by shortcomings in their linguistic or educational level,” she said. 

READ: ‘I pay taxes but have no say in Swiss life': Your views on whether Switzerland should allow all foreigners to vote 

“What our study shows is that even when the contract is fulfilled, they are discriminated against. 

“It is not up to them, but to the way society looks at them, who still cannot see them on an equal footing.”

Part of a broader trend

While the results may be troubling, they appear to be part of a broader trend in Swiss society. 

In addition to employers, landlords have also been shown to discriminate against naturalized citizens in Switzerland. 

Discrimination on the basis of race is illegal in Switzerland. 

Approximately one in four residents of Switzerland is foreign-born, in addition to a large proportion of the country which are considered second-generation Swiss. 

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Jobs: Why Zurich has rebounded better than other Swiss cities from Covid

The Covid pandemic hit Switzerland hard, although the country's largest city has rebounded strongly.

Jobs: Why Zurich has rebounded better than other Swiss cities from Covid

Measures imposed due to the Covid pandemic, which began in earnest in February 2020, shuttered businesses across the country and pushed many people out of work. 

When most notable Covid rules were relaxed in Switzerland in mid-February 2022, the economic recovery – highlighted by a strong job market – began in earnest in 2021. 

READ MORE: How the Swiss job market rebounded from the Covid pandemic

Nowhere was this more evident than Zurich, Switzerland’s largest and most economically powerful city. 

How did Zurich rebound from the Covid pandemic in comparison to the rest of the country?

Even though Zurich, along with other large Swiss cities like Geneva, Basel, Bern and Lausanne, have been hit hard by the pandemic from the employment perspective, Zurich’s labour market is now growing faster than in other urban centres.

One of the reasons for this upward trend is that young, well-educated foreigners are coming back.

In the first nine months of 2021, the city’s population grew significantly.

In September alone, it recorded 2,200 additional residents.

This is mainly due to people with a B residence permit, according to Klemens Rosin, methodologist at Zurich’s Statistics Office.

During the crisis, far fewer of them left the city. “This group is made up of well-educated, younger and mobile foreigners who have made a significant contribution to Zurich’s growth”, Rosin said.

Zurich’s employment market is expect to grow even further.

READ MORE: How hard is finding work in Zurich without speaking German?

That’s because in the coming years, many Zurich workers will retire — an estimated  210,000 by year 2050 — creating more job opportunities for younger employees.

In fact, according to a study commissioned by the canton in 2021, if Zurich’s economy is to continue to flourish, it will need around 1.37 million workers by mid-century.

If these vacancies will not be filled, then income, tax revenue and the financing of social security programs will be impacted.

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While it is difficult to predict what jobs will be most in demand in 2050 — what new technologies will emerge in the meantime — right now and in medium term, IT workers will be especially needed, experts say, because businesses will continue to to digitalise and automate.

Lower skilled jobs will also be in higher demand, including hospitality, retail and transport. 

With hundreds of thousands of vacancies to fill, people with the permission to work in Switzerland are likely to be flush with offers – particularly skilled workers with recognised qualifications. 

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