Switzerland should accept more non-EU workers, says Finance Minister

Switzerland should accept more non-EU workers, says Finance Minister

Finance Minister Ueli Maurer has called for an increase in the number of Swiss residence permits given to expat workers from outside the European Union, European Economic Area and the United Kingdom. It follows a report from the Federal Statistical Office (FSO), which found that the rate of unemployment has fallen once again, with an estimated 250.000 jobs in Switzerland left unfilled.

Finance Minister calls for high non-EU quota for Swiss residence permits

Speaking at a press conference at the OECD, Maurer said, “I think we need to slightly increase the quotas from non-EU countries, specifically for companies in the field of research and IT." Currently, 8.500 residence permits are made available every year for skilled workers from outside the EU, EEA and UK. These permits are distributed by population size among the cantons.

The Finance Minister did not confirm how large the quota rise would be, only that it would be discussed in the next parliamentary session in Bern. His political colleague Franz Grüter agreed with the idea, saying that while his and Maurer’s political party remains against the free movement of people, they are open to a targeted increase in immigration to help fill vital jobs.

Low unemployment and high vacancies dominate the Swiss job market

It follows new data from the FSO which found unemployment fell to 2 percent in June 2022, with 50.056 fewer people looking for work than 12 months ago. 92.511 were registered for unemployment benefits, 5.493 fewer than the month before.

This has been combined with sky-high vacancy figures for 2022, with x28AG reporting there were a quarter of a million vacancies in Switzerland a few months ago. A new study by UBS, the major Swiss bank, found that Switzerland will have a shortage of half a million workers by 2032.

Deep labour shortage hoped to be solved by immigration

According to the FSO, one in three Swiss companies have struggled to employ new workers this year. Boris Zürcher, head of the Labour Directorate in the Swiss government, told NZZ that “the labour shortage has deepened like never before.”

Simon Wey, from the Swiss Employers’ Association, said that Ueli Maurer’s comments were unsurprising as, “In an often dry labour market, companies must have the possibility in the short term to recruit more staff from third countries.” He said that international companies should be given more flexibility in where they employ their staff from and that the government should also focus on retraining staff who are already residents in Switzerland.

Jan de Boer


Jan de Boer

Editor for Switzerland at IamExpat Media. Jan studied History at the University of York and Broadcast Journalism at the University of Sheffield. Though born in York, Jan has lived most...

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