Every year, thousands of expats arrive in Bern and work in many different sectors. Bern is world-famous for its vineyards and cheese, in particular world-famous Emmental, produced in the surrounding region. Ovaltine and Toblerone were invented here, and many locally-produced agricultural products are sold in markets, shops and cafes in Bern. Popular local dishes include the Berner Platte, containing a variety of meat, sauerkraut, beans and potatoes, and a traditional onion tart, Zibelechueche.
While the food, tourism, manufacturing and agriculture industries are important contributors to the local economy, in recent years, technology has also become a leading industry. Small enterprises and start-ups are encouraged by the authorities and businesses benefit from the region’s population of skilled and often multilingual workers, as well as the large number of graduates from the city’s universities. Headquarters of many leading firms, including Swiss Post, Swatch and Rolex, are based in Bern.
Bern's unemployment rate is below the Swiss average. In 2013, some 80,000 residents were employed in various sectors, and finding a job is relatively easy for expats who have the right skills and training. English teachers are required in Bern and vacancies are displayed on the website of the English Teachers Association Switzerland.
Expats who speak German (and who are willing to learn the local dialect) and preferably one or more of the other official languages, will find it much easier to find work, and get much more out of living in Bern.
Job vacancies can be found in local newspapers. Daily publications include Berner Zeitung, Der Bund, 20 Minuten and Blick am Abend. Not all opportunities will be listed in newspapers, however, so it is best to check online. Useful websites include Job Sites and Indeed. There are several recruitment agencies with offices in Bern, and you can register online. Agency websites include such as Kelly Services, Manpower and Randstad.
When obtaining a permit to work as an expat in Switzerland, several factors come into play, including the person’s country of origin, their skills, and current Swiss quotas. Citizens from the European Union or the European Free Trade Association (EU countries plus Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland) can reside in Bern for three months while they look for work. This can be extended to six months during an active job hunt.
Citizens of all other countries must have a guaranteed work contract from an employer as well as the appropriate work visa before entering the country. Family members of a permit holder are also allowed to reside in Switzerland, regardless of nationality. For any expat looking to move to Bern, training and higher education qualifications are desirable.
For more information, visit your local Swiss embassy or this website.