Foreigners strongly represented in top, menial jobs

Foreigners working in Switzerland tend to get either top or menial jobs, according to a new survey. There are also considerable differences in salaries, not only in comparison with the Swiss but also among the foreigners themselves.

This content was published on November 23, 1999 - 11:30

Foreigners working in Switzerland tend to get either top or menial jobs, according to a new survey. There are also considerable differences in salaries, not only in comparison with the Swiss but also among the foreigners themselves.

Just over 970,000 foreigners -- two-thirds of the total number in Switzerland -- have jobs according to the Federal Statistics Office’s new survey, “The foreign population in Switzerland.“

In comparison to the Swiss, people from northern and western countries belonging to the European Union have proportionally more executive or managerial positions.

The survey points to a clear division, both in terms of jobs and salaries, between people who come from the more developed EU states and those from non-EU and non-European states.

Workers from southern countries in Europe and other countries outside the EU are poorly represented when it comes to executive jobs. But 15 percent of them do more menial tasks, compared to just under 5 percent of Swiss and just under 2 percent of people from more developed EU countries.

Foreigners from northern and western EU countries also fare better in terms of wages than Swiss in similar posts. But at the other end of the scale, people from less advanced countries earn less than the Swiss.

Differing levels of education and qualifications are held out as the main reason for these differences.

One in four jobs in Switzerland is held by a foreigner. The unemployment rate in 1998 was 7.5 percent among foreigners, compared to 2.5 percent for the Swiss.

More than half the foreigners in Switzerland come from EU or EFTA countries. There were 340,000 Italians and 233,000 from the former Yugoslavia in 1998, making them the largest groups of nationals in Switzerland.

The list of foreigners in Switzerland shows that of the 1,502,000 registered in 1998, 93,800 or 6.2 percent had or were seeking asylum, and 142,000 people worked in Switzerland but lived in neighbouring countries.

From staff and wire reports

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