Immigrants moving to Switzerland integrate quite easily, especially into the job market. But poverty levels and training possibilities are problematic, an international study finds.
Non-Swiss currently account for 24% of the total population of Switzerland of 8.2 million. Around 76% of immigrants have a job, compared with the European average of 62%, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) revealed on Thursday in a new joint report with the European Commission, entitled “Settling In – Indicators of Immigration Integration 2015”.
The report bills itself as “the first broad international comparison across all EU and OECD countries of the outcomes for immigrants and their children”. It goes into detail on education, income, housing, health, civic engagement and social cohesion.
The report found that immigrants in Switzerland often work in the field they originally trained. This is not the case for the majority of OECD countries, where 32% of immigrant workers are overqualified, compared to 17% for Switzerland.
This healthy job situation in Switzerland leads to the successful integration of immigrant children, the report added. Feelings of discrimination are apparently less common among immigrant children in Switzerland – only 9% – compared with 17% internationally.
Poverty and education
But the overall plight of immigrants in Switzerland is not entirely rosy. The authors found that more immigrants suffered from poverty than native residents did and that they were more likely to live in shoddy housing. One out of four immigrant homes was over-occupied or did not meet recognised standards.
Education success was also a weak point for immigrants, the OECD found. Young immigrants from poorer backgrounds fail to gain good grades in Swiss schools. Only 4% of them were considered ‘good students’, compared to 10% of immigrants in OECD countries and 17% of young Swiss students of a similar age.
This trend worsened among young immigrants entering higher education. Around half as many immigrants or their children qualified from a professional training college or equivalent as young Swiss-born residents, the OECD found.
Last year, a net total of 73,000 foreigners came to live in Switzerland; 50,600 were from EU/EFTA nations. This latter figure was 25% lower than the record year 2013, according to the 11threport by the research institute on the free movement of people between Switzerland and the European Union.
Europeans from countries hit by the economic crisis, such as France, Italy, Spain, Portugal and Britain, made up the majority of immigrants to Switzerland last year. Fewer Germans tried their luck.
According to projections from the Federal Statistical Office, foreign immigrants are expected to account for more than 80% of Switzerland’s population increase in the next 30 years.
The number of people living in Switzerland is forecast to rise from 8.25 million at present to 10.2 million by 2045. This increase will largely be due to migration and to a lesser extent due to a surplus of births over deaths.
swissinfo.ch with agencies