SVP leaves Switzerland hanging as a business location

Graduation Doktoranden Masterstudien ETH Schweiz Aufenthalt
Graduates of Swiss universities are in demand worldwide. (Symbol image: Rut Miit / unsplash)

Switzerland urgently needs a highly-qualified workforce. But the country’s largest party is not playing along with the most obvious solution.

Actually, Switzerland’s largest party, the SVP, is pro-business. But sometimes it gets in its own way.

The Federal Council has now decided that people who obtain a master’s degree or a doctorate in a field with a shortage of skilled workers should be able to stay and work in Switzerland, even if they come from a third country. 

The dispatch on the amendment to the Foreign Nationals and Integration Act (AIG) is based on a request from parliament, which will next discuss the bill, the federal administration said in this regard.

Half the world affected

Third country nationals educated at universities and ETHS, i.e. master’s graduates and doctoral students, from areas with a proven shortage of skilled workers are to be exempt from the third country quotas when admitted to the labor market.

This would affect, for example, persons from the U.S.A., Japan, China, Brazil, Australia, India or African countries.

The proposed change to the regulation is in line with the interests of Switzerland as a business location, the administration added.

Switzerland as home

The people concerned had been educated in Swiss academic institutions and were usually already well integrated into Swiss society. In any case, this is a numerically limited group of an estimated 200 to 300 people per year.

Why should Switzerland lose these educated people after years of study, if they want to stay here at all, to the U.S.A., Japan, Canada, Great Britain or China?

Few ricochets

But the consultation report contains the real surprise. A total of 69 comments were received. 23 cantons welcomed the bill. Bern agreed – only subject to amendments and further suggestions. And the canton of Zug rejected the bill. 

Five nationwide umbrella organizations agree with the consultation draft. Another one also agrees with it with one reservation. All 32 interested parties that submitted comments welcomed the bill. 

The majority of the political parties assessed the bill positively in their statements: FDP, Green Liberals and the Center supported the implementation of the bill. However, the FDP regretted that the motion would not be implemented at the ordinance level in view of the time urgency.

The SP supported the proposal in principle. In their opinion, however, not only highly qualified employees should be taken into account when a job is available.

Immigration as a problem

The SVP, however, firmly rejected the bill. It contradicts Article 121a (2) BV and would further increase annual net immigration.

According to the report, the SVP demanded that a separate quota be created for the group of people in question, but that it be counted towards the overall quota.

Students should pay

In addition, the existing funds of the subsidized tertiary education sector should be shifted in the future to the MINT area, i.e. in mathematics, information technology, natural sciences and technology.

On top of that, according to the Swiss People’s Party, foreign students should pay at least 50 percent of the cost of their studies themselves. So, while many countries are strongly courting them, the SVP still wants to make them pay.

Sensible regulation

With the view on immigration and the hurdles for immigrants, the SVP remains in the eyes of only true to its foreigner-unfriendly attitude. However, it completely loses sight of one of Switzerland’s strategic goals, namely to increase prosperity.

The foreign specialists from third countries educated at a Swiss university or college should simply be exempted from the annual maximum numbers for residence permits if their gainful employment is of high scientific or economic interest for Switzerland.

That actually makes sense. The SVP is just getting in its own way.


SVP leaves Switzerland hanging as a business location

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