Free movement of people and access to workers from third countries - Interpharma

A strong economic framework

Free movement of people and access to workers from third countries

Innovations are determined to a substantial degree by the qualification of the workforce as a whole. The Swiss education system needs to take new skills profiles into account.

Overview Free movement of people and access to workers from third countries Promoting upcoming young scientists The tertiary education system as a key location factor

The pharmaceutical industry employs an above-average number of highly qualified personnel. However, innovations depend not only on the scientific level of leading individual researchers but are also determined to a significant degree by the qualification of the workforce as a whole. A flexible labour market is one of Switzerland’s strengths, while access to foreign skilled workers and specialists is not. For this reason, the central requirements in coming years will be to safeguard the free movement of people and adequate quotas from third countries.

Agreement with the EU on the free movement of persons

The Agreement on the free movement of persons enables Swiss citizens to work and live in the EU and vice versa. It means that workers in the EU who have the qualifications that are lacking or absent in Switzerland can be recruited unbureaucratically by Swiss companies. The Agreement on the free movement of persons is also central in enabling cross-border workers to be recruited.

In September 2020, the Swiss population will vote on the popular initiative “For moderate immigration” (Limitation Initiative) to determine whether the freedom of movement agreement concluded with the EU in 2002 should be terminated.

If the initiative is accepted, this will not only affect the free movement of people; a significant part of the bilateral agreements (Bilateral Agreements I) will also cease to be in force. These agreements currently enable Switzerland to act largely unhindered in the European market, and their annulment would lead to massive economic losses in view of the importance of Swiss exports.

Access to workers from third countries (non-EU/non-EFTA)

The Swiss pharmaceutical industry has grown strongly in recent years and has made a substantial contribution to the growth of value added and thus to prosperity in our country. This growth has been accompanied by an increase in the demand for highly qualified employees in the pharmaceutical industry. Competition for skilled workers is already intense in a labour market that is largely devoid of suitable candidates, and individuals with career profiles such as data scientists are now also highly sought after. The new technologies certainly represent new opportunities, particularly in the evaluation of large data volumes, but they will also intensify the shortage of skilled workers.

Adequate quotas must therefore be made available not only for the EU – which remains the most important source of foreign labour for the pharmaceutical industry – but also for third countries. The differing economic structures of the Swiss cantons also makes it necessary to revise the distribution keys applied to these quotas, making it easier to recruit workers in the cantons where they are most needed. Simplified processes should help to meet the industry’s need for highly qualified workers both rapidly and efficiently. This is the only way for the industry to remain competitive in attracting skilled workers.

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Interpharma, the association of Switzerland’s research-based pharmaceutical industry, was founded in Basel in 1933.

Interpharma informs the public about issues that are important to the research-based pharmaceutical industry in Switzerland, including the pharma market in Switzerland, healthcare and biomedical research.

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