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Old 01.11.2017, 15:23
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Migrant workers: who they are, what they work, and what they did before

There is another (long) thread here on EF about the term of migrant, which I don't intend to replicate here. Instead, here I focus on migrants who came here not on short-term contracts (like expats), rather those who intend to stay for longer, if not indefinite, period. These workers either came by themselves, or as trailing spouses, and work at low-skilled sectors, or experience de-skilling (e.g. formerly was a doctor in home country, while work as cleaner at host country).

Forgive me if this sounds ignorant from my part, but I've only had limited knowledge on these workers, probably because of my limited encounters with them or limited stories that I have heard about them

For example:
(1) I have encountered some East European workers working at elderly home, who experience deskilling.
(2) In the past, I also came across Srilankan lady working as a cleaner at the prenatal ward at UniSpital.
(3) When I lived in Geneva a few years ago, I heard that a lot of Filipina working as cleaners, a few of them I came across as they thought I was Filipina too.

So, my questions are: Do you know any of these workers in your neighbourhood? Or perhaps, have you had encounter(s) with them? Or perhaps you are one of them? If yes, then, who are they (you)? Are they (you) men or women? What do they(you) do? and in the case of deskilling, what did they (you) do before?

I'm not intending to make this thread as a racist post. Rather to make these workers visible (at least visible to my screen here ).
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Old 01.11.2017, 15:35
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Re: Migrant workers: who they are, what they work, and what they did before

Canada has this issue, too, albeit slightly different. You (and family) apply and are granted a "skilled worker" visa (often after months or years of being vetted), only to immigrate and find yourself unemployable due to your education not being recognized. See how ridiculous it sounds?

https://beta.theglobeandmail.com/glo...rticle4106352/

I find that the European market is nicer to those from less economically developed countries. Can we count the Germans and French in this category, too? The academia is full of Germans, for example, and so are the Reha clinics close to the German border.

Cheers!
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Old 01.11.2017, 15:46
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Re: Migrant workers: who they are, what they work, and what they did before

Deskiling is normal in my opinion, some expats are coming and can find a job on their level think of programmers for example, they often only experience no other change than a different desk, while others left their carrier and almost have to start over.

I climbed my way up to lead the technical team of 12 electricians maintaining a large heavy industrial factory, working along debating with the customer how to implement new things and telling people how to install these things, work above my education but made it based on skill and experience, there's no way I would ever land a job like that here within the first years due to different regulations that I am not up to date with, so it would be impossible for me to tell people how they should do their job since I just can't know without having worked here for years or take on a full time education to redo my own level (for which I just do not have the time to do so.) and B, without local experience and having worked your way up, these jobs are never given to expats.

It is only logical that if i do not maintain these skills I will forget a part of them, think of all the formula's involved in it, not using them for years will make people forget a bunch of them.

Last edited by EdwinNL; 01.11.2017 at 16:54.
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Old 01.11.2017, 16:08
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Re: Migrant workers: who they are, what they work, and what they did before

I was very fortunate to have an outstanding young lady helping me with my mutts earlier in the year. I was so lucky to have had her help, she had the medical skills I needed that few other sitters have. But helping me out meant working at a level far below what she had trained to do. I assume this is what you mean by 'deskilling'.

She held a degree, years of experience, was highly skilled in her field (medical) in her home country. She is in a discipline crying out for qualified people here, based on her skills and qualifications she should have been able to waltz into any job... Unfortunately the process of recognition in Switzerland took a great deal of time and treasure to complete, with bureaucratic hoops to jump through.

So she did whatever jobs she could find to keep a roof over her head, working her fingers to the bone, while waiting for recognition and a chance to prove herself in her field. The last is an issue many in her shoes have to deal with - prejudice against people from (insert countries here.)

Fortunately she finally found a 'real' job in her field and now with a foot on the ladder hopefully it will be onwards and upwards.

It seems to me that Swiss society sometimes forgets how lucky the country is to be able to attract people of this young lady's caliber - despite the difficulties many face here, both structurally and in terms of attitude and treatment, when they first arrive.
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Old 01.11.2017, 16:17
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Re: Migrant workers: who they are, what they work, and what they did before

I have met a Hungarian guy who was a school teacher in Hungary but now works as a baggage handler at Zürich airport. A very unfortunate waste of a highly skilled mind. Also several of the cleaning ladies where I work, who mostly hail from the countries of former Yugoslavia, actually have skills and diplomas they don't use because they make more money here as cleaners than they would back home in their professions. One of them is even an interior designer. Others are bakers, electricians, crane operators etc (in socialist times it was much more common for women to work in what may now be considered typically male jobs). Sometimes it's worth talking to the people around you. There is so much more to them than meets the eye.
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Old 01.11.2017, 16:21
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Re: Migrant workers: who they are, what they work, and what they did before

You hear that quite a bit in many countries:


I was a Doctor, or and Engineer, or a Professor in my home country: Here I'm driving a taxi.


Each person has to make their own decision, along the lines of "work to live", or "live to work". If it means giving up a prestigious title and job so your children can grow up in a better* country--this is a no brainer to some


*better can be: safer, cleaner, more opportunities etc.




I was a fairly decent engineer in my home country---but that didn't translate to much in CH, so now I work in Marketing for a fraction of the pay (due to no education or experience :P ). But the idea of getting rid of my stuff, up rooting and moving is out of the question---so I chose 'work-to-live'.
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Old 01.11.2017, 16:44
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Re: Migrant workers: who they are, what they work, and what they did before

FR, the guys who repaired our elevators were from Lithuania. Guys who work at the canteen where my OH's company has lunch are from all over the world - Sri Lanka, former Yugoslavia, some African countries. I suppose some of them came as asylum seekers and this was all they could find. My friend's cleaning lady is from Portugal, she came here and couldn't find anything else in her field. Another friend of mine is from Kazakhstan and although a journalist in her native country, speaking 5 languages, she works at Aldi (arranging shelves). My Ukrainian friend works at Coop, she was a cosmetician back home but she still has to find a way to do the same thing here. I know lots of women whose husbands have a very good position here (coming from France, Germany, USA, so not only from less developed countries btw) but they found something totally different than before and obviously "deskilled" just so they too can have a job - working in a private kindergarten, as private tutor, sports instructor, things like this. Yes, talk to people because there's so much more than what people imagine.
Migrant workers? I don't know, I suppose you have to use a specific terminology, I never think in these terms.

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Sometimes it's worth talking to the people around you. There is so much more to them than meets the eye.

Last edited by greenmount; 01.11.2017 at 17:18.
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Old 01.11.2017, 19:03
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Re: Migrant workers: who they are, what they work, and what they did before

I spoke to a man from an Arab country. There, he was a professor of linguistics. Besides languages of the region, in which he was an expert, he spoke fluent English and had a solid working basis (and a passionate interest) in several European languages.

Because he was afraid of extremists, and believed that girls should have the same opportunities as boys, he left and, after a troubled journey, finally managed to get the whole family into Switzerland, legally. Here, he very quickly qualified as a taxi-driver, because he could already demonstrate the language skills, is personable from dealing with students and faculty, and could easily learn all the required theory and the map of Zurich.

He missed his academic life, but rejoiced in his daughter's opportunity to have access to education and to choose for herself in which field she wished to study or do an apprenticeship, just as freely as any boy could.

Last edited by doropfiz; 03.11.2017 at 22:55. Reason: correcting "tax-driver" to "taxi-driver"
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Old 01.11.2017, 19:38
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Re: Migrant workers: who they are, what they work, and what they did before

FuriousRose, I understand your opening post to be inviting an interesting non-violent discussion. I'm confused by this part, though:
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... I've only had limited knowledge on these workers, probably because of my limited encounters with them or limited stories that I have heard about them
Were you yourself born in Switzerland, of Swiss parents and grandparents?
And do you think many people here, on the forum, are? Or do you think the users here are a homogenous group of expats on temporary contracts until they go home, never actually having spoken to anyone else who lives here?

Just checking, because I'm not sure I know what you mean. I feel I might be missing something when I see you writing of "encounters with them" or "stories about them". (my italics).

I'm more inclined to agree with greenmount.
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Migrant workers? I don't know, I suppose you have to use a specific terminology, I never think in these terms.
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Old 01.11.2017, 19:46
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Re: Migrant workers: who they are, what they work, and what they did before

so, according to your definition, I am migrant from eastern europe. allthough we like to say, that Croatia is not eastern europe.

I came because I wanted to. I was payed above average back home. the same is here (or I wouldn't come).

I have not met a lot of people from back home. I was told where they meet, but I don't have any interested in going there. usually, those people are "politicaly right (extremist)" which is not how I roll.

I didn't plan to be migrant but expert, but after 11 months here, I can't see myself going back.

I know a lot of people from eastern europe work e.g. in coop, migros, restaurants, but I would say, those people moved because of the economics situation or war, and they are just happy to live in peace and without problems and for kids to have possibility for "normal" future.
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Old 01.11.2017, 19:47
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Re: Migrant workers: who they are, what they work, and what they did before

Some years ago I was hospitalised in a private clinic in Lausanne. A "hostess", I believe she was called, was assigned to my room. Basically she brought me meals and the newspaper. We exchanged a few words daily. It was only a few, as she hardly spoke any French. She didn't seem very bright, to be brutally honest.

Then, one day, I asked her if she spoke English. She did, fluently. She told be that she had a degree back in the Philippines, but couldn't work in her field in Switzerland because of her lack of French.

After that, I had lots of conversations about all sorts of things with this interesting, intelligent, woman.
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Old 01.11.2017, 20:03
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Re: Migrant workers: who they are, what they work, and what they did before

Yes, Marsalforn, the language makes an amazing difference. It is the one aspect about immigration (no matter what the reason that one moved country) that perplexes me more than any other: why some people determine to learn the local language, and others do not.

Just as an example: The woman working in the hospital, whom you describe, had a degree. Why, then, did she not apply some of that academic ability to learn French? Did she not think that learning French would have opened more doors for her?

I fully understand that even a good command of the local language is often not enough, in itself, to have qualifications from other countries acknowledged or registered. That can be a blow, especially for those immigrants who mistakenly assumed that their qualification would be esteemed and that they would automatically be welcomed on the basis thereof.

The options are to face learning the language and then perhaps get lucky and find a job based on those foreign qualifications, or to take more local exams in order to have one's qualification accepted, or to choose some other training in a different field, here in Switzerland. Or, of course, of to stay in low-skilled jobs, which seems to me a sad route to choose, unless, of course, one feels happy there.
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Old 01.11.2017, 20:15
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Re: Migrant workers: who they are, what they work, and what they did before

Most of the 'expats' I know have been here a long time or intend to stay long. I also know lots eastern / central European expats that are in highly skilled well paid roles.
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Old 01.11.2017, 21:27
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Re: Migrant workers: who they are, what they work, and what they did before

Deskilling, what an interesting word, perhaps a candidate for what the Germans call:"Unwort des Jahres" but it hits the nail on the head. Imagine getting to the top of your game and suddenly finding yourself without work and no chance to rejoin where you left off, just a few rungs below the top of the ladder and seeing yourself having to go down rung for rung.
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Old 01.11.2017, 21:44
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Re: Migrant workers: who they are, what they work, and what they did before

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FuriousRose, I understand your opening post to be inviting an interesting non-violent discussion. I'm confused by this part, though:


Were you yourself born in Switzerland, of Swiss parents and grandparents?
And do you think many people here, on the forum, are? Or do you think the users here are a homogenous group of expats on temporary contracts until they go home, never actually having spoken to anyone else who lives here?

Just checking, because I'm not sure I know what you mean. I feel I might be missing something when I see you writing of "encounters with them" or "stories about them". (my italics).

I'm more inclined to agree with greenmount.
The same sentiments here.
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Old 01.11.2017, 21:48
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Re: Migrant workers: who they are, what they work, and what they did before

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FuriousRose, I understand your opening post to be inviting an interesting non-violent discussion. I'm confused by this part, though:


Were you yourself born in Switzerland, of Swiss parents and grandparents?
And do you think many people here, on the forum, are? Or do you think the users here are a homogenous group of expats on temporary contracts until they go home, never actually having spoken to anyone else who lives here?

Just checking, because I'm not sure I know what you mean. I feel I might be missing something when I see you writing of "encounters with them" or "stories about them". (my italics).

I'm more inclined to agree with greenmount.
I'm more surprised at OP not having a more diverse circle of acquaintances or friends, it's so easy to get to know people with different backgrounds when you are a foreigner yourself. Go to any language course and the mixing up is "inevitable", talk to neighbours etc

I understand, of course, that some people tend to stick with their colleagues, but alas, it's so much more fun to know people outside this tiny world.
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Old 03.11.2017, 19:55
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Re: Migrant workers: who they are, what they work, and what they did before

I am sure you are just a cover for the Swiss Immigrant Police
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There is another (long) thread here on EF about the term of migrant, which I don't intend to replicate here. Instead, here I focus on migrants who came here not on short-term contracts (like expats), rather those who intend to stay for longer, if not indefinite, period. These workers either came by themselves, or as trailing spouses, and work at low-skilled sectors, or experience de-skilling (e.g. formerly was a doctor in home country, while work as cleaner at host country).

Forgive me if this sounds ignorant from my part, but I've only had limited knowledge on these workers, probably because of my limited encounters with them or limited stories that I have heard about them

For example:
(1) I have encountered some East European workers working at elderly home, who experience deskilling.
(2) In the past, I also came across Srilankan lady working as a cleaner at the prenatal ward at UniSpital.
(3) When I lived in Geneva a few years ago, I heard that a lot of Filipina working as cleaners, a few of them I came across as they thought I was Filipina too.

So, my questions are: Do you know any of these workers in your neighbourhood? Or perhaps, have you had encounter(s) with them? Or perhaps you are one of them? If yes, then, who are they (you)? Are they (you) men or women? What do they(you) do? and in the case of deskilling, what did they (you) do before?

I'm not intending to make this thread as a racist post. Rather to make these workers visible (at least visible to my screen here ).
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Old 03.11.2017, 21:12
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Re: Migrant workers: who they are, what they work, and what they did before

But how does a "low skilled" non EU get a permit to work at all?

They came as a training spouse of a skilled (not able to be found in EU) person maybe? But one would assume that would be quite well paid?

I've seen a million threads here of highly qualified people being told they'll never get a permit because they are non EU.

Guessing it's not illegal working in hospitals etc..
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Old 03.11.2017, 23:04
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Re: Migrant workers: who they are, what they work, and what they did before

Here's a government statistic graph of work done by Swiss and foreign people, according to the field of work.

https://www.bfs.admin.ch/bfs/de/home...l.2646538.html
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Old 04.11.2017, 06:50
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Re: Migrant workers: who they are, what they work, and what they did before

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But how does a "low skilled" non EU get a permit to work at all?

They came as a training spouse of a skilled (not able to be found in EU) person maybe? But one would assume that would be quite well paid?

I've seen a million threads here of highly qualified people being told they'll never get a permit because they are non EU.

Guessing it's not illegal working in hospitals etc..
I know so many skilled non-EU (hehe, so funny to call people like that, EU or non-EU) who did get a job permit, one would wonder if the quota thing is still a thing...but I guess companies have their ways. They do have their ways even with low-skilled workers, btw. People have their ways, they could have come as au-pairs, asylum seekers, for studies, internships etc and found a way to stay here. Isn't that obvious.. anyway.
As for the "low skilled"ones, in general (not always the case in reality, as explained before) - some are married to Swiss, quite simply put. Some were born here, hehe... (I know a lady whom I candidly asked where she was from because I assumed she was a foreigner...and she was born in Ticino, actually) Of course those are not "migrants", I was making fun of the situation.

Last edited by greenmount; 04.11.2017 at 08:06.
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