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JOBS

Working in Switzerland: A weekly roundup of the latest job news

Find out everything you need to know about working in Switzerland with The Local's weekly roundup of jobs news.

Working in Switzerland: A weekly roundup of the latest job news
IT jobs are in high demand in Switzerland. Photo by Photo by cottonbro from Pexels Copy

Starting in August 2021, The Local will bring you weekly updates on everything related to jobs and working in Switzerland. 

This includes trends, reader feedback and relevant laws that you need to know about when working in Switzerland. 

Statistics: Unemployment highest in French-speaking cantons

At the end of July 2021, the overall rate stood at a relatively low 2.8 percent, but some cantons did better than others on the job front, according to figures released this week by the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO).

As the SECO map below indicates, at 4.9 and 4.8 percent respectively, Geneva and Jura have higher-than-average joblessness, while unemployment rate in central and eastern cantons falls below 2 percent.

The highest rate is among young people up to 24 years of age (+3.7 percent), while unemployment among those between 50 and 64 has declined by 3.2 percent, according to SECO.

Unemployment highest among foreigners

The same SECO statistics show that while the jobless rate for the Swiss is 2 percent, it jumps to 4.8 percent among foreign nationals.

For the EU nationals employed in Switzerland, it is the highest for Eastern Europeans: 10.6 percent for citizens of Bulgaria, followed by Romanians (8.8 percent), and people from Slovakia (6.5 percent).

For those outside the EU, unemployment is highest for people from the Balkans: 7.8 percent for those from Kosovo and 7.1 percent for Macedonians.

The lowest unemployment among the non-EU group is among British citizens: 3.7 percent.

READ MORE: How can I have my foreign qualifications recognised in Switzerland?

Teleworking more popular among Swiss employees

Working from home, a practice which took hold during the pandemic, is seen favourably by most employees in Switzerland

According to a survey carried out by the GFS Institute, 89 percent of employees questioned believe that teleworking should be allowed in their company, in addition to on-site activity.

And 79 percent want to continue this system after the pandemic, while only 6 percent reject this option.

This preference is not one-sided: several large Swiss companies have decided to give their employees more flexibility in the organisation of working time to offer them a better work-life balance.

Among them are UBS and Credit Suisse banks, according to the survey.

READ MORE: ‘Home office’: Will the pandemic change the way Switzerland works?

Digital professions remain in high demand

Highly skilled computer workforce is scarce in Switzerland, but the demand for these services is high.

“It is currently almost impossible to find a mobile app developer”, Daniel Kaempf , co-founder and director of Darwin Digital, said in an interview.

To fill the gap, he believes that all sectors leading to digital transformation professions should be strengthened in Switzerland, which, for the time being, are limited and the career path is complex.

“At the moment, the best course is an engineering degree from a federal polytechnic or a university of applied sciences. Then, you have to supplement your knowledge with online training. And above all, you have to gain practice by working”, he said.

Did you know? Switzerland does not have a minimum wage

When compared to its European neighbours – or countries globally – Switzerland is known for its high salaries in almost all industry types.

Therefore, it is perhaps surprising to find out that the country does not have an officially mandated minimum hourly wage. 

After being first implemented in New Zealand and Australia in the 1890s, minimum wage laws have spread across the world. Most European countries have now put in place some form of minimum wage limit. 

In Switzerland, this has been done at a cantonal level, with five cantons now putting in place a minimum wage: Basel City, Ticino, Geneva, Neuchâtel and Jura. 

Zurich, Switzerland’s most populous canton, is also considering putting in place a minimum wage. 

READ MORE: Will Zurich introduce a minimum wage?

That does not however mean that your employer is free to pay you as much – or as little – as he or she wants. Instead, the minimum amount you can be paid will be determined through negotiations with your employer which will may feature a trade union representative. 

Whether this be an hourly amount or one which is set for full or part-time hours, setting a minimum standard in specific industries is a common way to ensure workers aren’t underpaid or unpaid. 

More information about the minimum wage in Switzerland can be found at the following link. 

Minimum wage in Switzerland: What you need to know

Useful links

Looking for a job in Switzerland or just want a little more information about working here, then check out the following links. 

The jobs roundup is new addition and we’d welcome any feedback or suggestions for areas it should cover. Please email us at [email protected]

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WORKING IN SWITZERLAND

EXPLAINED: Switzerland’s planned work quotas for third-country nationals

While people from the EU/EFTA states can get a Swiss work permit relatively easy, citizens from third countries are subject to quotas, which are renewed each year.

EXPLAINED: Switzerland's planned work quotas for third-country nationals

For 2023, the government will issue the same number of work permits to non-Europeans as it had this and last year, the Federal Council has announced.

This means 8,500 skilled workers from third countries can be employed in Switzerland: 4,500 will benefit from a B and 4,000 from a L permit.

In addition, 3,500 permits are set aside for workers from the UK, as British citizens benefit from separate quotas: 2,100 under a B permit and 1,400 under an L permit.

Why do British citizens have a separate quota?

From January 1st, 2021, people from Great Britain are no longer considered to be EU nationals and are subjected to the same rules as other citizens of third nations.

In other words, they will be “admitted to work here provided if this is in Switzerland’s overall economic interest”, according to State Secretariat for Migration (SEM). 

However, this  doesn’t apply to British nationals who had moved to Switzerland before the end of the Brexit transition period (December 31st, 2020) — they will retain all their existing rights for residence and employment.

How can a third-country national apply for a Swiss work permit?

“Authorisations are issued according to the needs of companies and taking into account the economic interests of Switzerland,” the Federal Council said,  adding that “priority is given to workers already present in the country.”

If you are not in Switzerland but want to apply from abroad, “you may only do so if you are highly qualified, i.e. if you are a manager, specialist or other skilled professional,” according to SEM.

“This means, essentially, that you should have a degree from a university or an institution of higher education, as well as a number of years of professional work experience.”

And, you must have a job offer in Switzerland, that is, someone who can attest they want to employ you. 

Another condition is that your potential employer must prove that there is no suitable person to fill the job vacancy from Switzerland or from an EU/EFTA state, SEM said.

How do you find an employer who might want to take you on?

In the same way as anyone else — Swiss or EU / EFTA national — would: look at posts advertised in Switzerland and if you see a job listing you like, you can apply in the usual manner — send your CV and other documents required by the company.

If you do get hired because you fulfil all the criteria — that is, you are highly skilled and no Swiss or EU candidate can be found to fill this position — your employer will apply for a work permit for you. Cantonal authorities will then decide, based on the quota system mentioned above, whether to grant the authorisation.

You can find more information in this article:

EXPLAINED: What are your chances of getting a job in Switzerland from abroad?

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