First-generation citizens are twice as likely to be unemployed in Switzerland

First-generation citizens are twice as likely to be unemployed in Switzerland

A new report from the Federal Statistical Office (FSO) has found expats and first-generation citizens in Switzerland are twice as likely to lose their job and become unemployed than those without a migration background. Around 38 percent of the Swiss population are holders of a residence permit or first and second-generation citizens, showing a disparity in employment for more than a third of the population.

Some expats rely on employment to remain in Switzerland

Despite unemployment figures remaining low in Switzerland, the FSO found that expats and first-generation citizens are still twice as likely to be unemployed. The FSO estimated 7 percent of people with a migration background did not have a job in 2021, compared with 3 percent of people who are at least third-generation Swiss.

Becoming unemployed while in Switzerland can be difficult for expats, as unemployment benefits are usually based on the total amount worked in the country, which in an expat's case may only be one or two years. Some expats from outside the EU also have to rely on work to maintain a residence permit, or are else may be forced to leave. 

Once expats become employed, the level of work done is more or less the same across the board. The FSO found the number of new citizens in management increases by how many generations have passed since gaining citizenship.

Expats in Switzerland more likely to be over-qualified for their work

One of the most notable facts is that expats and first-generation citizens are more likely to be overqualified for the work they do. 19 percent of people born abroad do work that does not use their level of education, such as higher education and vocational training.

The FSO counselled against blaming the disparity solely on someone's migration background, stating that it could be one of many factors. In a statement, they said “other variables such as age or level of education can also have an influence."

Jan de Boer


Jan de Boer

Jan studied in York and Sheffield in the UK, obtaining a master's in broadcast journalism and a bachelor's in history. He has worked as a radio DJ, TV presenter, and...

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