How qualified are migrants in Switzerland?


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The proportion of highly qualified migrants among new arrivals, irrespective of origin, has increased since the end of the 20th century. Today, more than half of the people of working age arriving from abroad are highly qualified, with a particularly high proportion among migrants from English-speaking countries.

There are marked differences between continents, and also between the countries within a given continent. Within Europe, for example, the proportion of migrants with tertiary education is more than 80% for British nationals arriving in Switzerland since 2010, 50% for arrivals from Italy and Spain, but less than 20% for Portuguese migrants, which highlights the diversity of migration flows.

Among migrants arriving before 2010, more men than women had tertiary education. Since 2011 there have been equal proportions of highly qualified men and women, or even a slightly higher proportion of highly qualified women.

In which sectors of the economy do most of the migrants work?


Permanent resident population: The population of Swiss and foreign nationals holding a residence permit with a duration of more than twelve months. Since 2011, the term “permanent resident population” has also included foreign nationals holding an F or N permit who have been in Switzerland for twelve months or more.

Source: Swiss Federal Statistical Office, structural survey 2010–2014

Note on the methodology: The education level of migrants is estimated on the basis of the combined data of the structural surveys conducted from 2010 through 2014. The data is then weighted so as to be representative of the foreign population residing permanently in Switzerland. Individuals aged between 20 and 65 arriving in Switzerland are recorded and classified according to their year of arrival. Note that the results are an extrapolation based on the educational level of migrants still resident in Switzerland at the time of this survey, and do not take account of those who have left.

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