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TODAY IN SWITZERLAND

Today in Switzerland: A round-up of the latest news on Wednesday

Find out what's going on today in Switzerland with The Local's short roundup of the news.

Apartments with balconies have been in demand in Switzerland during the pandemic. Photo by Anna Tarazevich from Pexels
Apartments with balconies have been in demand in Switzerland during the pandemic. Photo by Anna Tarazevich from Pexels

Peak of Omicron wave to hit Switzerland in the next two weeks

The cases attributed to Omicron, which is responsible for nearly 77 percent of all infections in Switzerland, is expected to reach its peak in the last week of January, according to Tanja Stadler, head of Covid-19 Task Force.

At the end of this wave, between 65 and 85 percent of Switzerland’s population should have immunity against Omicron, she said.

READ MORE: ‘40,000 cases daily in Zurich’ as authorities warn of triage for the unvaccinated

“We expect the number of cases to rise, then stabilise or decrease”, noted Virginie Masserey, head of the infection control section at the Federal Office of Public Health.

As far as healthcare system is concerned,  hospitalisations linked to the Delta variant are on the decline, while those linked to Omicron “have not yet been observed”, she said.

The most sought-after housing during the pandemic: spacious and away from cities

More spacious accommodations, preferably with a balcony or a garden and outside urban centres, were most in demand in Switzerland in the second half of 2021, according to a report by the Federal Housing Commission (FHC).

The home-working obligation also meant the Swiss favoured properties with an extra room to set up an office.

FHC also reports that the number of people wanting to buy property during the pandemic has increased, resulting in higher prices.

READ MORE: Swiss property prices see strongest rise in years

Lack of qualified personnel threatens Switzerland labour market

With nearly 150,000 people currently in quarantine, placing Switzerland’s critical infrastructure at risk, Omicron offers a foretaste of what could become a huge problem for the country in the years to come: impending shortage of trained workers.

The reason is that the number of people retiring is higher than that of new employees.

Consequently, a gap is growing between the demand from the economy, which is constantly creating new jobs, and the ever-shrinking supply of skilled labour — employees who have a vocational diploma or university degree.

“The impact on the labour market will be huge,” said Tino Senoner, director of Dynajobs, who predicts a shortage of 365,000 specialised workers by 2025.

More foreign students enrolled at Swiss universities

The reputation of Switzerland’s higher education system has not lessened during the pandemic: the number of international students continued to increase in 2020, according to new figures released by the Federal Statistical Office.

And a similar upward trend was recorded in 2021 as well.

At the start of the 2020 school year, nearly 12,300 new foreign students attended Swiss educational institutions, an increase of 4 percent over the previous year.

Nationals of neighbouring countries constitute the majority of international students. But the number of Chinese citizens is also increasing : between 2019 and 2020, it went up by more than a quarter (27 percent) at the bachelor’s and master’s level.

READ MORE: How much universities in Switzerland charge foreigners compared to locals

If you have any questions about life in Switzerland, ideas for articles or news tips for The Local, please get in touch with us at [email protected]

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TODAY IN SWITZERLAND

Today in Switzerland: A roundup of the latest news on Tuesday

Swiss workers need wage rises and rent prices rise in Zurich in the latest roundup of news from Switzerland on Tuesday.

Today in Switzerland: A roundup of the latest news on Tuesday

Swiss workers should get wage increase of ‘up to 5 percent in 2023’

Trade Union Travail Suisse has demanded a general wage rise of between 3 and 5 percent for all workers in the country in 2023.

The rise would allow workers to cope with the rising cost of living in the country as well as to compensate workers for an increase in productivity.

Thomas Bauer an economist from Travail Suisse argues that Switzerland’s economy is in good health at the moment but workers have seen little benefit in terms of wage rises. They have only see prices rise and stress levels increase.

“That has to change urgently,” he said.

That argument was echoed by Johann Tscherrig from the Syna trade union who said: “All workers must get their fair share of the fruits of growth” as they work “to the maximum of their abilities”.

READ ALSO: FACT CHECK: How accurate are the ‘five reasons not to move to Switzerland’?

Rent prices stable in July but increase in Zurich

Rent prices in Switzerland did not see an increase last month for the first time in a year, according to the property site Homegate.

But although July saw prices stagnate or even sightly decrease, the bigger picture shows that rents continue to rise, especially in Switzerland’s cities.

Over the last year they have increased 2 percent in Switzerland as a whole and as much as 6.4 percent in Zurich.

The canton of Graubünden saw a 4.3 percent rise compared to last year whilst rents in the cantons of Nidwalden (+7.3%) and Schwyz (+4.7%) also rose steeply.

Homegate put the general rise down to the fact that “both the number of vacant homes and the number of building permit applications are down, while demand remains high due to immigration.”

READ ALSO: REVEALED: Where in Europe have house prices and rent costs increased the most?

Wolf population in Alps growing exponentially

The number of wolves in the Alps continues to grow but there are concerns that available habitat will soon become too restricted as the population of the wild animal grows exponentially.

The organisation Groupe Loup Suisse (Swiss Wolf group) said the wolf population across the Alps was growing by 25 percent to 30 percent each year.

With around 300 wolf packs living in the Alps this summer the population has occupied around half the habitable area – given that each wolf pack needs around 250 square kilometres of territory on average.

Groupe Loup Suisse estimates therefore that the Alps has around enough space for a viable population of 800 packs.

The organisation believes it’s vital to implement measures to better protect livestock from wolf attacks.

READ ALSO: Swiss organisation again calls for volunteers to scare wolves away

Chimney sweepers in high demand

The high oil and gas prices are scaring Swiss homeowners and many are not getting ready to heat their homes with wood, broadcaster SRF reported.

With that, chimney sweep services are more sought after than ever, with businesses booked weeks ahead, especially in rural areas, where wood stoves and fireplaces are more common. But inquiries from homeowners in larger cities are also increasing, the head of the Association of chimney sweeps Switzerland Paul Grässli says.

He reminds people to have their fireplaces and stoves checked regularly by professionals to avoid accidents. “If the fireplace has not been used for years, it could be dangerous, he says.

READ ALSO: How can you save on your household energy bills in Switzerland?

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