“Investing in sustainable integration is a challenge exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic,” said Cornelia Lüthy, Deputy Director of the State Secretariat for Migration (SEM) in her keynote at the 2021 Avenir Suisse Think-Tank Summit.
Labor market participation rates for refugees and temporarily admitted persons in Switzerland were encouraging and improving, with some 20 – 30 percent finding jobs after four or five years, and 50 percent after seven years.

Our refugee population is very young – half are under 25 years old, Luthy added That is both a challenge and an opportunity. Research has shown that applicants’ language skills double their employment opportunities in the local labor market. So government investment in language training ultimately pays off.

Regarding the Covid-19 pandemic, Luthy said it was too early to comment on the long-term effects on migration. In the short term, the anti-corona measures caused immigration numbers to collapse. That proved how fragile our international recruiting system was. But, in her presentation, Lüthy also provided examples of successful refugee integration in the ICT sector and in health care.

In conclusion, she stated that it was important to exploit workers’ full potential in migration policy – and refugees are clearly formed part of that potential. However, effective integration must also take into account the realities of the local labor market. Switzerland’s job market is demanding and highly competitive, which is why education and training are of great importance.to give migrants long-term job prospects and meet the needs of the labor market for skilled workers. Poorly trained refugees pose a major challenge. It is important to develop opportunities for them in growth industries, in cooperation with private companies and institutions.