Could new immigrants threaten jobs of older construction workers?

The Swiss construction industry is one of the few sectors that employs large numbers of foreigners in low-skilled jobs and has high unemployment levels. It remains unclear if a new system of hiring preferences for Swiss workers will help resolve this situation.  After the European Union’s free movement of people clause came into effect in 2002, large numbers of foreigners found construction jobs in Switzerland, despite an above-average unemployment rate for the sector. According to the State Secretariat for Migration (SEM), around 3,200 construction workers, or 18% of the sector’s labour force, were unemployed in 2016, while the same year over 6,000 foreigners found construction jobs.  Thomas Foery, head of human resources at the largest Swiss construction firm Implenia, which employs workers from over 60 countries, doubts new immigrants force older workers out of their jobs - at least not in the main construction sector.  “Foreign applicants are not necessarily cheaper. They ...

 
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