Which professions in Switzerland are harder for foreigners to break into?

Helena Bachmann
Helena Bachmann - [email protected]
Which professions in Switzerland are harder for foreigners to break into?
Many foreigners work in construction. Image by bridgesward from Pixabay

In many sectors of Switzerland’s economy, Swiss employees prevail over foreign ones — and vice-versa.


In the past, the ‘division of labour’ in Switzerland was clear: foreign nationals held mostly manual (and therefore lower-paid) jobs, while the Swiss worked in managerial / executive and other middle and high positions.

Many sectors still follow these traditional roles, with some jobs held almost exclusively by Swiss citizens, and others by foreign nationals.

Which jobs are mostly held by the Swiss?

To find this out, the Basel-based consultancy firm, Demografik, surveyed professions with more than 10,000 employees.

It found that “about 60 percent of the country's masons and flooring installers are foreign-born,” Neue Zürcher Zeitung (NZZ), reported.

The comparable figure among the country's unskilled workers as a whole is even higher —  84 percent.

“Swiss nationals also make up only a third of kitchen assistants and cleaning staffers” — jobs typically held by immigrants with no higher education or vocational training.

On the other hand, Swiss citizens hold a number of jobs that are almost unattainable for unskilled foreign nationals, including police officers, teachers, lawyers, senior administrative staff, and social workers.

Only a small percentage of immigrants work in these professions.

However, they dominate fields such as service staff, chauffeurs, unskilled industrial workers, and construction — jobs where very few Swiss can be found.


Why is this?

“The proportion of foreign workers is highest in jobs that are generally considered unappealing – whether because of the low pay, high level of physical demands or irregular working hours," said Demografik economist Lisa Triolo.

“Nevertheless, these professions are important for the functioning of the economy, because they are difficult to automate.”

Triolo also found that foreigners mainly work in areas where recruiting employees has been difficult.

“The longer the vacancy period in an occupational group, the higher the proportion of foreigners," she pointed out.  "For example, construction is the sector in which companies take the longest to fill an open position."


Is this survey objective?

It is, if you focus primarily on unskilled foreign workers, who basically take on jobs that the Swiss don’t want.

The picture is different, however, if you include skilled professionals into the mix.

Many of them hold the same positions, and earn equal or even higher wages, than their Swiss counterparts.

READ ALSO: In which jobs in Switzerland do foreign workers earn more than the Swiss? 


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