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Labour reintegration poses a problem for Swiss

A study about aiding people on welfare benefit to re-enter the labour market shows that individual qualities help more than social programmes at reintegrating them.

The report, commissioned by the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (Seco) in Bern, examined the cases of 1,529 people on social benefit between 2005 and 2006 in the cities of Lausanne, Biel, Basel, Lucerne and St Gallen.

"One-third of the people are finding permanent jobs. A third find jobs on a temporary basis and one third are not finding jobs at all," Seco's Werner Aeberhardt, head of analysis for the labour market and social policy, told swissinfo.ch.

More precisely, the report says that almost four years later, 23 per cent of those surveyed are employed and received no further public support.

But 28 per cent – almost three out of ten – have not been able to re-enter the labour market at all.

Others no longer receive social benefit or have become recipients of Switzerland's invalidity pension scheme.

"Working poor"

And 11 per cent have found employment again but are among the country's "working poor" and still require social aid.

Aeberhardt says the difficulties of labour market re-integration are clear.

"[They are] the people with deficiencies in the field of education, particularly vocational training and language knowledge," he said.

The study shows that qualities such as age, education, the level attained in a company before and language skills are determining factors.

However, people over the age of 50 and those without qualifications have fewer chances of reintegration.

The researchers found that nationality and gender did not have an influence.

Problem in perspective

Aeberhardt says that although Seco realises there is a problem, it has to be put into perspective.

"I don't think it's worrying if you compare it with other countries...I don't think it's a long-term trend. It's a problem we are now aware of...and if you are aware of a problem you can improve things."

He also pointed out that tackling the problem was not the responsibility of the federal government.

"It's the responsibility of the cities and cantons. The cantons are aware of this problem and they are trying to get more targeted and specialised measures for these people.

"There are a lot of motivated people in this field and they are trying to improve measures and I am sure they will get good results in the coming years," he added.

Robert Brookes, swissinfo.ch

Labour snapshot, September 2009

There were 154,409 people unemployed in Switzerland or 3.9% of the working population. The jobless rate in August was 3.8%.

The number of unemployed young people (15-24 years old) rose by 701 (+2.4%) to 29,999.

There were 212,902 people looking for a job. That represents 66,965 more (+45.9%) than at the same time in 2008.

The number of registered jobs available rose by 587 to 13,940.

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Swiss economy

The KOF Swiss Economic Institute, in its predictions released at the end of September, expects GDP to contract by 3.4% for the whole year 2009 (3.3% forecast in June).

However, the economy is predicted to expand by a marginal 0.1% next year and 1.4% in 2011.

Government figures from the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (Seco) have predicted a 1.7% drop for 2009 and a rise of 0.4% for 2010.

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