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Old 14.10.2011, 19:56
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Finding a job in Switzerland without 'Swiss' qualifications - experiences & opinions?

Hi,

As I'm going through a rather frustrating experience at the moment, I thought I'd turn to EF for experiences, advice and opinions, hoping there might be someone out there whose been in a similar situation.

To be brief, I've been out of work (on a medical certificate) for almost 2 years. I've made a few tentative attempts to get back to work, without success (applications not even being responded to...).

I'm a qualified primary school teacher (in the UK), but current thinking is that it is probably inadvisable for me to return to that role at present. Neither do I feel competent to teach English as a foreign language (just adding that because if I had a franc for every time someone suggested that... well, I wouldn't be worrying about money quite so much).

My problem is, I'm receiving very conflicting messages about where that actually leaves me in the Swiss job market.

At the moment, I'm in a programme run by 'integration pour tous', which aims to re-integrate people who have been off work through illness back into the work place. The message I am getting from them goes something like this:

Them: What do you want to do? (in terms of jobs)
Me: I don't know... what can I do? (i.e. what am I qualified to do?)
Them: Well, tell us what you want to do, find out about it, we'll organise work placements and then you'll know if you want to do it, and if you are capable of doing so!

As you can see, they don't really answer the question of qualifications. In their world, that doesn't seem to matter much.

This was frustrating me as I don't want to identify a 'professional project', do work placements and then start applying, only to be rejected over my lack of appropriate qualifications.

So today I went to the 'office de conseil d'orientation scolaire et professionnelle' (I guess careers advice...). I explained my situation, and the advisor asked me if I wanted advice on retraining. I explained no, I can't afford to retrain (and social services won't fund it). I specifically stated I wanted advice on careers that I could either apply to with my current qualifications, or careers that offered on-the-job training.

So he went to his computer, printed out a list of careers involving 'teaching'. He then went through the list and picked out the careers that he felt would suit me, and printed off the details. He then handed me eight or so sheets, and proceeded to point out that every single one required a Swiss qualification, that I did not have. He also pointed out how they might not be suitable given my past history. He then told me that I could apply for roles like this, but in all probability my application wouldn't get looked at because I didn't have the magic letters of CFC, HES, ES or whatever.

Now I'm feeling both frustrated and confused.

Frustrated because what I was expecting was a discussion on my strengths, weaknesses, abilities etc... and then an identification of possible careers not just a 'You are a teacher. Here are roles connected to teaching. But sadly you're not qualified to do any of them...'

Confused because if this counsellor is correct, why on earth are social services paying for me to go through this 6 month programme, and why are the people at integration pour tous encouraging me to identify potential careers? The two viewpoints seem widely diverging... one lot say 'You can do anything you want to do...' the other lot say 'You could do this... oh, sorry, no qualifications...'

So.... any experiences or advice? I'd really like a bit of encouragement before Monday, I start a month long training programme designed to help people who have to change their careers, and right now I don't feel like it's worth going. But on the other hand, it would be a colossal waste of money, and that doesn't seem like the Swiss system I know and love. They're generous, but not profligate!

Last edited by Vlh22; 14.10.2011 at 19:57. Reason: Grammatical error... oops
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Old 10.11.2011, 15:30
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Re: Finding a job in Switzerland without 'Swiss' qualifications - experiences & opini

Hello,
I am in a similar situation, only with medical education which is not recognized here. And OCE paid for "mesure Confrontation", for integration into Swiss job market. The difference is that it lasts four weeks and, more importantly, that it has been really helpful. The coach said openly that speaking French fluently and having locally recognized diploma is an absolute must for finding job in my field, and suggested 3 options at this moment: either entry-level job in international English-speaking company, either blue collar stage (apprentice, vendeuse...) in francophone environment to master the language faster, either, well, mastering French.
Hope that will help you. I do think that there might be extra opportunities for English-speaking primary teacher, however, they probably are not abundant.
Make up your mind, grab your coach and work together in the selected direction.
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Old 10.11.2011, 15:58
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Re: Finding a job in Switzerland without 'Swiss' qualifications - experiences & opini

Fighting disillusionment is one of the hardest parts of being unemployed or 'under-employed'.

I'm all for grasping any opportunity...and taking from whatever experience the most that I can. Sure, you might be bored, frustrated, turning up - but you don't really have anything to lose either - sometimes the best reward for turning up is the networking part of it...

A friend of mine paid a recruitment agency to do a work-readiness assessment and careers counselling session, and instead they offered her a job in their agency...and the rest, as they say, is history.

Putting yourself out there is a big effort. Hang in there, and keep working on ideas, maybe go back to basics and think about what you wished you could do before and during the time you were a teacher...and I'm sure you can find your passion for something...

I would suggest ignoring the fact that you don't have xyz qualifications, and go for it - my father is considered a world expert in his field (pharmaceuticals) but doesn't have a pharmacy degree - he went into business with a pharmacist instead!

If you want to do a career transfer, then this is a great time to test things out and see if there is a career that is 'just for you' - the idea of jumping back into study, unless you are 100% sure that's exactly what you want to do - would not appeal to me at all...
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Old 10.11.2011, 16:18
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Re: Finding a job in Switzerland without 'Swiss' qualifications - experiences & opini

How about applying to one of the international boarding schools dotted around Lake Geneva?
A quick Google search turned up this one in Lausanne: http://www.brillantmont.ch/

You could contact them to find out if there are any vacancies for somebody with your qualifications. It doesn't necessarily have to be a teaching job, but perhaps something along the lines of "chaperone" or "house mom" for the younger children - you'd certainly have enough experience of working with kids that age; maybe they have extra-curricular activities that are personnel-intensive and need a few extra hands, ears and eyes. It'd be worth a try.
Good luck!
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Old 10.11.2011, 16:27
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Re: Finding a job in Switzerland without 'Swiss' qualifications - experiences & opini

I just wanted to say I feel for you, and you are not alone if your confusion/discouragement. Sorry, I don't have more practical advice.
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Old 10.11.2011, 16:31
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Re: Finding a job in Switzerland without 'Swiss' qualifications - experiences & opini

Forgive me if this is obvious to you, but have you tried looking through the thousands of positions on http://www.jobup.ch to see if there's anything that grabs your attention?

Even if you don't meet the specific requirements, you may find something that helps you decide what is more to your taste.

Do take into account that in your situation, nothing may really appeal. It's a bit like losing one's appetite after being unwell, and being long term unwell tends to destroy the appetite for work. Other people on EF have better knowledge than I do about coping with that and several other threads have a lot of good information.
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