Swiss unemployment heading downward, but not for all

Unemployment in Switzerland is dropping, as the economy carries on working its way out of the recession which hit in the mid-1990s. The unemployment rate is now 2.4 per cent. This is one of the lowest figures in the industrialised world.

This content was published on March 27, 2000 - 14:24

Unemployment in Switzerland is dropping, as the economy carries on growing. The country is working its way out of the recession which hit in the mid-1990s, and now has an unemployment rate of 2.4 per cent. This is one of the lowest figures in the industrialised world.

However, many of those still without a job are long-term unemployed, and losing the chance to ever re-join the workforce. A seminar aimed at addressing the difficulties faced by those who been out of work for too long is being held in Fribourg today by Swiss Labour Assistance.

The organisation's spokesman, Yves Ecoeur, said that the falling number of unemployed is diverting attention from the needs of those for whom being out of a job can mean dropping through the social security net.

Ecoeur said that the long-term unemployed are trapped in a vicious circle. They have lost the right to benefits, but their chances of finding work are slim because they have been away from the labour market for so long. Potential employers do not rate their skills highly, assuming they have missed out on new developments.

Swiss Labour Assistance wants employers to give the long-term unemployed a chance, with jobs which will help them re-integrate into the work-force. However, the organisation does not think companies should be given government incentives to take on new workers.

Ecoeur cited the case of France, where incentive schemes, he said, have been used by employers to get cheap, short-term workers who do not get a job out of the scheme when it comes to an end.

Instead, he said, companies should hire the long-term unemployed in order to gain a reputation for corporate social repsonsibility. He said this would be a good marketing strategy, attracting more customers.

While some may see this as unrealistic, given that big business is not known for bursts of generosity, Ecoeur belives now is clearly the time to put pressure on big Swiss corporations, which are posting increased profits. He said that their healthy situation should encourage them to assist the re-integration of the long-term jobless.


by Jonas Hughes

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