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Old 09.05.2013, 23:09
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Finding getting a construction job hard with limited German

My husband is multi-skilled and really misses building work. He previously worked as a site manage in London. He is currently working in the removal business, but only has a 50 % contract and not using his skills. He is learning german, but agencies don't even want to look at his CV when they realise he is not a geman speaker. Any advice wold be appreciated!
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Old 09.05.2013, 23:12
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Re: FInding getting a construction job hard with limited german

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My husband is multi-skilled and really misses building work. He previously worked as a site manage in London. He is currently working in the removal business, but only has a 50 % contract and not using his skills. He is learning german, but agencies don't even want to look at his CV when they realise he is not a geman speaker. Any advice wold be appreciated!
Alone the safety is reason enough to understand the local language as much as possible before getting a job. Welcome and keep studying/practicing with him.
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Old 09.05.2013, 23:56
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Re: FInding getting a construction job hard with limited german

I've been working here in construction for the last 4 years. The first 2 years i worked through temp agencies and 2 years ago I was offered a fulltime position. I'm now doing an apprenticeship in order to gain the Swiss qualifications. In all I've only been in CH for a bit over 5 years so just let the hubby know that it can be done, you just have to learn the language and speak it constantly, even when people want to speak in English, you have to just keep to German. What level is he up to ? and how old is he ?
As for the reasoning of safety being an issue for non German speakers, well just this week I have been working with a 52 year old who has been here for more than 20 years and speaks next to no German. He even stuffed up the marking out of a wall because he didn't understand me. I hope some day soon they will make it compulsary to speak German in construction here in central CH instead of Italian. Shits me to no end I tell you...
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Old 10.05.2013, 00:13
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Re: FInding getting a construction job hard with limited german

We have only been here since August. He has done level A1 and is 32 years old. He also speaks Albanian and some Italian. I believe this would be useful as these languages are spoken a lot in the building trade in Switzerland. He is happy to do any work so he can get into the scene.
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Old 10.05.2013, 10:40
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Re: FInding getting a construction job hard with limited german

Is he British or some other nationality? If not EU, then it puts him at the back of the queue for jobs.
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Old 10.05.2013, 11:08
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Re: FInding getting a construction job hard with limited german

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Is he British or some other nationality? If not EU, then it puts him at the back of the queue for jobs.
Maybe not if they are married and he has a B dependent permit allowing him to work. In that case, my understanding was that he can work freely and it is much easier for a potential employer to employ him

This is how it was (is!) in my case.
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Old 10.05.2013, 11:14
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Re: FInding getting a construction job hard with limited german

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Maybe not if they are married and he has a B dependent permit allowing him to work. In that case, my understanding was that he can work freely and it is much easier for a potential employer to employ him

This is how it was (is!) in my case.
True tildaoz, but I made the assumption (perhaps wrongly) that he's the main permit holder. In which case if he's non-EU then it's much more difficult to change/get jobs here.
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Old 10.05.2013, 11:26
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Re: FInding getting a construction job hard with limited german

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True tildaoz, but I made the assumption (perhaps wrongly) that he's the main permit holder. In which case if he's non-EU then it's much more difficult to change/get jobs here.
You're absolutely right, of course. I guess I assumed the other way around as if he was the main permit holder they wouldn't have been allowed to stay in the first place
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Old 10.05.2013, 11:32
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Re: FInding getting a construction job hard with limited german

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Any advice wold be appreciated!
Get him to enrol in German lessons and learn German? Will take him a year or two of mental pain and suffering, but will surely be worth it in the long run.
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Old 10.05.2013, 11:42
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Re: FInding getting a construction job hard with limited german

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Is he British or some other nationality?
How many British construction workers do you know who speak Alabanian and Italian?
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Old 10.05.2013, 11:46
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Re: FInding getting a construction job hard with limited german

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As for the reasoning of safety being an issue for non German speakers, well just this week I have been working with a 52 year old who has been here for more than 20 years and speaks next to no German. He even stuffed up the marking out of a wall because he didn't understand me. I hope some day soon they will make it compulsary to speak German in construction here in central CH instead of Italian. Shits me to no end I tell you...
With some of the construction workers I've had around my house, it was not so much the language that was a barrier to them doing what I wanted but more a feeling of them knowing better or thinking I wouldn't notice the difference. That's why it is important to get the work specification in writing before you let them loose.
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Old 10.05.2013, 11:50
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Re: FInding getting a construction job hard with limited german

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Get him to enrol in German lessons and learn German? Will take him a year or two of mental pain and suffering, but will surely be worth it in the long run.
He already is Richdog.

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How many British construction workers do you know who speak Alabanian and Italian?
Not many (well none actually), but he could be a naturalised Brit from Albania. Which is why I asked as the advice can sometimes be different depending on nationality.
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Old 10.05.2013, 12:11
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Re: FInding getting a construction job hard with limited german

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Not many (well none actually), but he could be a naturalised Brit from Albania. Which is why I asked as the advice can sometimes be different depending on nationality.
Fair enough, point taken.
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Old 10.05.2013, 13:26
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Re: FInding getting a construction job hard with limited german

Yes, he is British and has a 5 year B permit.
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Old 10.05.2013, 13:27
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Re: FInding getting a construction job hard with limited german

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He already is Richdog.
Then I guess patience i key... at least he is working 50%.. many non-German speaking people don't even get that when they are looking for a job.

Also building a strong network of expat friends over time will help, as word of mouth and personal contacts can really count for a lot when official means of applying to things draws a blank.
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Old 10.05.2013, 13:38
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Re: FInding getting a construction job hard with limited german

Thank you everyone for all your advice! He is based in the Basel area, so if anyone has any connections he would really appreciate it. He is a multi-skilled tradesman with expertise in plumbing and is extremely hard working. He will keep at the German.
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Old 10.05.2013, 13:50
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Re: FInding getting a construction job hard with limited german

Yep patience is the key there. He only needs to get himself up to B2 and he'll be right. Knowing a bit of Italian, as most Albanians do, is a great benefit. It will definitely be my next language.

Now is a really good time to be applying for temp work as everyone now takes some of their holidays and construction is in full swing till October pretty much.

I would also recommend him learning as many construction terms as possible though they will come quick as soon as he starts working. I could wright a list of tools and terms if you like. Get him in the swing of things...
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Old 10.05.2013, 13:54
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Re: FInding getting a construction job hard with limited german

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Thank you everyone for all your advice! He is based in the Basel area, so if anyone has any connections he would really appreciate it. He is a multi-skilled tradesman with expertise in plumbing and is extremely hard working. He will keep at the German.
Has he thought of staring his own business as an expat specific tradesman? I don't know if there's enough work for a full-time job, but if he is working 50% then Im sure for the other 50% many expats would be grateful for a skilled, English-speaking tradesman available to do essential works, especially if he prices himself well.
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Old 10.05.2013, 14:07
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Yes, he would really like to do that. He did this for a couple of years in the UK and his customers always came back again. We need to look into it more deeply, but we have heard that there are certain barriers that make it more complex to be self employed in Switzerland. I have heard that it costs quite a lot even if you don't make a profit and that you have to increase your profits every year or it is seen as a hobby. He is currently in the UK to pick up his tools so he is ready for action! It wasn't easy getting his removal job and only did get a job as he helped them all day when we moved here.

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Yep patience is the key there. He only needs to get himself up to B2 and he'll be right. Knowing a bit of Italian, as most Albanians do, is a great benefit. It will definitely be my next language.

Now is a really good time to be applying for temp work as everyone now takes some of their holidays and construction is in full swing till October pretty much.

I would also recommend him learning as many construction terms as possible though they will come quick as soon as he starts working. I could wright a list of tools and terms if you like. Get him in the swing of things...
Thanks Chrisso, this is great advice. It is extremely kind of you to offer to provide a list and it would be greatly appreciated!

Last edited by 3Wishes; 19.11.2014 at 03:22. Reason: merging successive posts
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Old 10.05.2013, 14:26
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Re: FInding getting a construction job hard with limited german

He'd also need to know a lot about the Swiss rules and regs which I know others posting here have found to be a barrier to self employment and he probably needs to understand them as an employee too. I would try and find out as much as possible about those for Ticino canton so he can study those too.
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