Aid agency Caritas Switzerland is urging the government and cantons to invest in better and faster training for young refugees to ensure their integration.
In a statement on Wednesday, it welcomed the Integration Agenda agreed between the government and Swiss cantons earlier this year, saying it is a key step. The agenda aims to ensure that at least half of adult refugees should find a job within seven years of arriving in Switzerland, and cantons are required to put in place measures to ensure the target can be met.
The emphasis should be on adapting the educational and training system, according to Caritas. Experience shows that young refugees are very motivated to learn, it stresses, and the first months are decisive for successful integration in Switzerland. Young refugees’ experience and potential need to be evaluated right at the start, and they need to be offered the education and training that corresponds with their potential.
Caritas says young refugees should be able to reach the educational level required of Swiss students by the end of compulsory schooling, even if it takes them to age 30. This would give them a solid basis for professional training and employment.
“If we do not invest in this integration, we are just raising the cost of welfare payments,” says Caritas Switzerland director Hugo Fasel.
At the end of December 2017, there were some 30,000 young people with refugee or temporary resident permits in Switzerland, plus a further 12,000 young asylum seekers, according to the charity’s statement.