Did Career-related Disadvantages of Italian and Spanish Immigrants in Switzerland Balance Out in the Course of Recent Immigration?
Foreign workers are usually found on either the bottom or top end of the Swiss labour market, while Swiss natives hold the intermediate level positions. At the same time, the distribution of the foreign work force seems to be influenced by the origin of the workers. By means of the 1980 Census and the 2010-2011 Structural Survey, Elena Vidal-Coso and Enrique Ortega-Rivera compare the career-related disadvantages of Italian and Spanish immigrants between 1976 and 1980, and 2006 and 2011.
Their results indicate that the disadvantaged position of Italians and Spaniards in the Swiss labour market in the late 1970s is not only explained through their lower educational levels, and therefore lack of human capital, but also caused by difficulties in translating their existing credentials into professional success: Italian and Spanish immigrants with tertiary education experienced difficulties bypassing the selective allocation of Southern European workers into low-status jobs.
In comparison with the 1970s, the Swiss economy in the second half of the 2000s showed an increased demand for highly qualified foreigners. While a division of foreign workers between the bottom and the top end of the labour market hierarchy can still be observed, Spanish and Italian immigrants have now entered the group of highly-skilled foreign workers. The authors finally stress the importance of further research on the effects of the economic crisis on emigration from Southern Europe, and cross-national research.