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Allocation Researchers say algorithms could help match refugees to jobs

Two refugees working on a farm

On average only 15% of asylum seekers are employed by the third year they are in Switzerland


A data-driven approach could help increase employment levels for asylum seekers in Switzerland, according to social scientists from the Federal Institute of Technology Zurich (ETHZ) and Stanford University.

The method is based on an algorithm that can help determine in which regions of the country the individual characteristics and abilities of an asylum seeker – age, gender, origins, language - best fit the needs of the labour market, according to an press releaseexternal link and an article in Science magazine. Lead ETHZ researcher Dominik Hangartner explains the project:

Refugees and certain groups of asylum seekers are allowed to work in Switzerland, but only in the canton to which they were assigned during their asylum proceedings.

The Swiss Conference on Social Aid has warned several times in the last year that refugees and job seekers are not being properly integrated into Switzerland's labour market. 

The ETHZ and Stanford scientists found that if the canton allocation were better tailored towards refugee integration into the labour market, their level of employment could increase from 15% to 26%.

The national asylum authorities said they would examine the idea, according to public television SRF.

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