The Federal Migration Commission has suggested new ways to help foreigners find rewarding work in Switzerland as demand rises for more highly skilled workers.
Officials say their efforts must recognise that half of all people who currently come to Switzerland do so primarily for family reasons, as a student or as an asylum seeker, rather than to seek work.
“New structures are needed to respond to this development, but also to create the prospect of sustainable labor market access for all, both indigenous and immigrant,” the commission said in a statement on Monday.
It said employers must carefully assess the qualifications of newly arrived migrants to take better account of their informally acquired knowledge and skills, as well as their professional qualifications and the level of education attained.
The commission recommends practical skills assessments to verify a prospective worker’s knowledge and experience, and more coordination with professional associations.
By comparison, immigrants moving to Switzerland integrate quite easily, especially into the job market, an international study found last year.
But poverty levels and training possibilities are problematic, said the study from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and the European Commission.
Non-Swiss account for about a quarter of the total population of Switzerland’s more than 8 million population. Three-quarters of Swiss immigrants have a job, compared with Europe’s 62% average.
The 30-member commission of independent experts advises the government on migration, aiming to encourage projects that promote social cohesion. It has a legal mandate to address a range of issues about foreign nationals residing in Switzerland, but its periodic recommendations are non-binding.
Early encouragement of finding a job in Switzerland has great potential, the commission’s experts say, especially for disadvantaged groups.
“The acquisition of training must be adapted to the new needs of the world of work, at all levels, from pre-school to adulthood,” the commission said. “Training and retraining opportunities should be open to people of all ages.”
Efforts to encourage better professional integration must be sustainable and not just to integrate a large number of people into the labor market as quickly as possible, it says, adding: “While such a policy creates higher education and training costs, it is an investment for the future.”
There also should be fewer barriers to integration on the labor market, such as long authorization procedures and special taxes, the commission recommends.
More and better language learning and practical experience at an early stage would benefit refugees, persons admitted on a provisional basis, and asylum seekers, it says.
There could also be mentoring and coaching, and “targeted incentives” for companies to provide family care and education.