Shortage of skilled foreign workers on the Swiss job market: consequences for work permit applications


Switzerland has a shortage of qualified foreign workers in certain sectors, such as healthcare, engineering, and information technology. Although the country has a highly skilled workforce, many employers struggle to find enough qualified workers to fill open positions.

The situation also applies in the rest of the EU-27/EFTA zone, which requires HRs to recruit skilled labor outside Europe. However, in areas lacking skilled workers, it is now possible for the Swiss labor authorities to apply less restrictive legal requirements when it comes to enforcing the priority process.

Thus, cantonal authorities in charge of examining non-EU work permit applications could use their discretionary power and renounce the requirement for the company to have searched for the skilled worker on the Swiss and European job market first, according to art. 21 LEI.

As such, companies relying on healthcare specialists, technology and engineering managers can now simply join the recent SECO values to prove that the selected non-EU skilled worker belongs to a field recognized to be in shortage in Switzerland (Directives LEI du Secrétariat d’Etat aux Migrations, Ch., 01.02.2023).

The obligation to announce and advertise the position before hiring the non-EU specialist remains in place no matter what, following art. 21a LEI.

Despite these efforts, the shortage of qualified foreign labor remains a challenge for many Swiss employers. Some companies have turned to remote work and outsourcing to fill talent gaps, while others have increased wages and benefits to attract more workers.

Note that the application process for a work permit in Switzerland can be complex, so it is recommended to seek the assistance of an immigration specialist to help you navigate the process.


13/04/23 – Alexa Mossaz, immigration manager at Legal Expat

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    This website aims to provide general information regarding Swiss law and should not be regarded as a legal opinion. For more specific advice, do not hesitate to contact us.