Exploit potential of migrants, says Sommaruga

In 2014, almost 400 construction workers were offered German language courses as a part of the "German on the construction site" programme. Keystone

An alliance of public and private sector groups tasked with integrating migrants by assimilating them into the workforce, met on Monday to assess progress. The Swiss president urged participants to view migrants as means to plug the workforce gap.

This content was published on January 26, 2015 - 18:34 and agencies

At the 2nd conference of the Tripartite Agglomeration Conference (TAC) on integration through work, Simonetta Sommaruga called for better use of the migrant population already established in Switzerland, as a part of a strategy to increase the domestic workforce.

"The integration of migrants is not for charitable purposes. The measures have been put in place because it is financially attractive, of interest to the domestic market and humanly reasonably to encourage the integration of migrants into the workforce," she said.

She also added that since the February 2014 anti-immigration vote in Switzerland, it was more important than ever to integrate already established migrants into the working population.

Besides federal, cantonal and communal level representatives, the TAC dialogue on integration through work includes employers and migrants associations. Since 2012, it has been involved in activities such as incorporating language courses into employee training programmes in sectors that employ a lot of migrants, such as hotels and construction.

Refugees are also an issue of concern. Currently 20% of refugees in Switzerland are in work. 

According to TAC president Guy Morin, the image of refugees in the country will be improved if the majority of them find a job.

Helping migrants, especially refugees, in obtaining proficiency in a Swiss language remains the cornerstone of the integration through work strategy.

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