There is no question that having the opportunity to work greatly enhances the chances of asylum-seekers integrating more easily. Since the beginning of this year they can simply apply online, not least at the premises of the Cantonal Office of Immigration Office itself, if need be.
It is, of course, in working that language skills are improved, skills which can be used not only at work but in socialising, too. The Federal Council recognises this and has taken steps to promote asylum-seekers and refugees who have been given permission to stay in Switzerland and the opportunity of being able to work. This includes those who have been granted provisional permission (those with an F permit) and refugees (those with a B permit).
Here in the canton of Zug, which enjoys a reputation for short pathways between the various authorities, in other areas, too, the Office of Immigration, the Office of Economics and Labour and the Cantonal Office of Social Services have streamlined the whole job application process to make it so much easier, with Jris Bischof, the head of the latter-mentioned authority praising the cooperation it enjoys with the other two departments. She mentioned how they receive some 25 applications per month on average, with two to three per cent of them seeking to do freelance work. Indeed, compared with other cantons, that of Zug is already achieving great success in this area.
The system here means direct connection not just to the Cantonal Office of Immigration but also to the website of the state immigration authority, the State Secretariat for Migration (SEM). A form filled in online is sent on automatically to the various cantonal authorities, the applicants themselves having to inform the authorities whenever they start or leave a job.
Previously, different cantonal authorities had to check details of any labour contract entered into from a legal point of view, including the level of pay, any discrepancies ironed out by an official talking to the employer directly, as Bischof went on to say. Where necessary, the Cantonal Office of Economics and Labour is always ready to offer advice in cases where contracts appear unusual. One matter the authorities are keen to avoid, of course, is any of the asylum-seekers or refugees ending up working illegally.
At present, as journalist Andrea Muff mentioned, it is too early to say how successful this streamlined system is, but indications are that it is helping, and is being widely used by potential employers.
As mentioned, even before it was introduced, red tape had been kept to a minimum, though the internal administration and effort involved on the part of the employers themselves remain just as high as before, Bischof mentioned.