Swiss Epidermic Reaction to Migrant German Labor

Posted on 21 March 2007 by Sprecher

A wave of emigration is taking place from Germany, where unemployment is high, to the clement lands of the German-speaking parts of Switzerland, where unemployment is very low and the demand for skilled labor is high.

The regions of Basel and Zurich are the most strongly affected.

In stark contrast to previous waves of economic immigration from other countries, the phenomenon of Germans seeking work in Switzerland is creating social repercussions of its own because the Germans tend to find employment in technical, research, medical, financial, and managerial fields.

The cultural differences between the German-speaking Swiss and their German neighbors is such that the Swiss are reacting negatively to aspects of the German’s behavior. The Swiss have started referring to the German arrivals as “Schwoobe.”

Germans tend to be loud and boisterous, which annoy the sedate and discrete Swiss.
Also, the arrival of Germans in the Swiss-German labor market in positions of authority is something the Swiss are less used to. Previous waves of immigrants to the Zurich area (for example from Italy) were primarily in subordinate laboring fields.

The Germans’ manner of bringing conflicts into the open or stating their opinion directly and confrontationally if highly unwelcome in Switzerland, where attitudes and behavior at work is highly consensual.

Further, the generalized attitude among Germans that the Swiss are slow and placid workers doe not help the situation.

The fact remains that in the Basel and Zurich agglomerations there are numerous employment and career opportunities across the technical, research, health and hospital, private banking, and executive fields; the economy is strong and the qualified labor pool is insufficient.

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