Older jobless struggle to find work

The long-term unemployed have a tough time finding a new job, especially if they're over 50. An estimated 100,000 people in Switzerland are jobless and no longer qualify for unemployment benefit, so they're on welfare.

This content was published on February 18, 2019 minutes

According to newly-published figures from the International Labour OrganisationExternal link, between the 4th quarter of 2017 and the 4th quarter of 2018, the number of long-term unemployed in Switzerland increased by 9,000. The figures are based on those who have been unemployed for one year or more and include people who are not registered at their local Regional Employment Centre (RAVExternal link), which provide placement services. The proportion of long-term unemployed among all jobless people increased by 3.4% over the past year. 

People who lose their jobs generally receive up to 70% of their former wages in benefits. To receive these, they need to report to the RAV. The unemployment insurance scheme entitles the jobless to between 200 and 520 daily allowances within a two-year period.

Regional employment centres under fire

There are also private organisations, like the Swiss Foundation for Labour and Training (SSAW)External link, that help to place the long-term unemployed in suitable positions. Tino Senoner, a SSAW delegate, has criticised the working practices of the RAV offices, insisting that a more personal approach is needed to assess people's individual abilities, and to make sure they find jobs before their unemployment benefits run out. In 2018, there were nearly 18,000 long-term unemployed in Switzerland. Of these, 48% (about 8,600) were over 50, while 19% were over 60 years old.

Swiss Public Television, SRFExternal link, interviewed older long-term unemployed people to find out what they were doing to find suitable jobs. One is a 63-year-old project manager, who is now helping skiers onto chairlifts in the resort of Arosa, a job for which he is vastly over-qualified. In the region where he lives, 75% of the long term unemployed are over 50.


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