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EMPLOYMENT

Jobs in Switzerland: Foreigners ‘less likely to be hired than Swiss nationals’

Swiss recruiters discriminate against foreign nationals on employment websites, a new large-scale study shows.

Jobs in Switzerland: Foreigners 'less likely to be hired than Swiss nationals'
Study shows online recruiters discriminate against foreigners. Photo by AFP

An analysis by the Swiss National Science Foundation showed that, on average, foreigners were 6.5 percent less likely than Swiss nationals to be contacted by recruiters for an interview. 

“This discrimination was particularly pronounced among immigrants from the Balkans, Africa, the Middle East and Asia, who often have to battle prejudice”, said Daniel Kopp, an economist at the Swiss Institute for Business Cycle Research, who participated in the study that analysed more than three million decisions made by recruiters over 10 months.

The research team also found that foreign jobseekers had less chance to be called for an interview around noon and late in the day, when recruiters typically spend less time evaluating CVs.

“This pattern supports the hypothesis that unconscious discrimination plays a certain role”, Kopp said.

READ MORE: ‘Foreigners rather than equals’: How Switzerland is failing immigrants 

This is not the first study spotlighting discrimination in employment practices.

Similar research carried out in October 2019 found that people who are not of Swiss origin have less chances of getting a job.

This study by National Center of Competence in Research, which analyses migration and mobility in Switzerland, revealed that 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.

They 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 study found.

“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”, the study’s authors concluded.

READ MORE: EXPLAINED: What non-EU nationals (including Britons) need to know about Swiss work permits? 

Out of Switzerland’s 8.6 million residents, 2.176 million are foreign nationals. That number doesn’t include about 330,000 cross-border workers who commute daily to their Swiss jobs from France, Italy, Germany, and Austria. 

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ZURICH

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.

READ MORE: Have your say: What’s the best way to find a job in Zurich

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. 

READ MORE: Why finding a job in Switzerland is set to become easier 

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