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Why finding a job in Switzerland is set to become easier

Experts forecast a major shortage in the Swiss job market in the coming years, with the hundreds of thousands of positions to become available due to retirement and a strong economy.

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Help wanted? Switzerland's strong economy and retiring baby boomers will see a massive need for new workers in the coming years. Photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash

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.

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

READ MORE: How to find English language jobs in Switzerland

In addition to Switzerland’s strong economy, the number of people retiring is higher than that of new employees entering the workforce. 

“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.

“This lack of personnel will cost the economy. In 2025 alone, this could lead to the loss of nearly 60 billion francs in added value,” said Senoner.

If the trend continues unabated, there will be a shortage of 1.2 million skilled workers by 2035. 

EXPLAINED: Five things you need to do when you move to Switzerland

Which industries will be hard hit?

While the labour shortage is expected to hit all areas of the Swiss economy, several areas will be particularly hard hit including healthcare, manufacturing and particularly IT. 

READ MORE: How much do IT specialists earn in Switzerland?

IT workers will be especially in demand, experts say, because businesses will need to digitalise and automate to make up for the likely shortage. 

Experts however say that lower skilled jobs will also be in higher demand, including hospitality, retail and transport. 

What does this mean for workers inside – and outside – of Switzerland? 

With hundreds of thousands of vacancies to fill, people with the permission to work in Switzerland are likely to be flush with offers – particularly skilled workers with recognised qualifications. 

One likely trend is that people will be encouraged to delay their retirements in order to work for longer. 

Employers may look to adopt flexible working conditions including part-time hours or remote work in order to tempt skilled workers to stave off retirement for a few more years. 

EXPLAINED: How to write the perfect Swiss CV

Simon Wey, chief economist of the Swiss Employers’ Union, said companies should start investing more in training their employees. 

“From the employers’ point of view, the priority is to exploit the potential of Swiss labor,” he said. 

“The Swiss Employers’ Union wants to encourage collaboration between the generations and create stronger incentives to work beyond the retirement age”.

Another consequence will be a need to import more skilled workers from abroad. 

Senoner points out that this may be difficult as Switzerland will need to compete with several other European nations for workers, particularly German-speaking Europe, in the coming years. 

“In the German-speaking area as a whole, there will be a shortage of nearly two million specialists within four years,” Senoner said. 

What does this mean for Switzerland?

Although the trend is likely to be positive for workers, if it is not rectified it may have serious consequences for the Swiss economy. 

Wey said the trend could endanger prosperity in Switzerland, one of the world’s wealthiest nations. 

“If there is a shortage of labor, Switzerland’s economic location will lose an important competitive advantage for creating wealth,” Wey told Blick. 

READ MORE: Five insider tips to find a job in Switzerland

Alexander Bélaz, President of Employees Switzerland, said companies will be hampered not just in terms of staffing, but with regard to innovation. 

“If you lack qualified staff, less time is available to put ideas and new products in place. Switzerland’s capacity for innovation and competitiveness could suffer as a result,” explains Bélaz. 

“This scarcity of resources is one of the most important business risks in the industry and in the medium term constitutes a danger for innovation in Switzerland.”

Wey called upon governments to invest more in other indirect services to help workers, such as childcare and daycare facilities. 

Member comments

  1. Maybe we need to think holistically and make work visa and settling in Switzerland permanently, an easier process.

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For members

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Zurich versus Geneva: Which Swiss city is better for job seekers?

Switzerland’s two largest cities and their surrounding areas are where most employment opportunities can be found. This is what you should know about what each of these locations has to offer.

Zurich versus Geneva: Which Swiss city is better for job seekers?

While Zurich and Geneva are different in some regards, such as the language spoken there — Swiss-German in the former and French in the latter — the two cities also have some things in common.

For instance, both frequently feature among the most expensive cities to live in various international surveys.

The latest one, carried out by a global mobility organisation, ECA International, found that globally Geneva and Zurich were ranked in the third and seventh place, respectively, in a survey of 20 most expensive cities for international residents.

However, on the European scale, Geneva was placed in top spot and Zurich in third.

But what about their job markets? Where should you look for a job — in Zurich or Geneva?

Your search may depend on personal factors such the area where you already live (or want to live) and the language you speak.

If you are fluent in French but not so much in Swiss German (or high German), then the choice is clear (and vice-versa). Even if English may be the main language in the office, you will still heed to speak local language outside of work.

But if you are open to moving wherever good job opportunities are plentiful, regardless of language skills, which city / area should you opt for?

The Local asked Stephan Surber, Senior Partner, Page Executive – a sister company to Michael Page recruiter for some insight.

Which market is more attractive to qualified employees, and why?

“Both Geneva and Zurich provide considerable opportunities to skilled professionals”, Surber said.

However, according to the Michael Page Swiss Job Index, the number of advertised jobs in May was over nine times bigger for canton Zurich than for canton Geneva. 

Do both cities/region offer similar positions in similar industries, or are they different and if so, how?

“Both offer roles in key industries such as financial and professional services, as well as health and life sciences”, Surber said.

They typically differ from one another in the concentration of industries. For example, Geneva has a higher concentration of international NGOs such as the United Nations, the Red Cross and the World Trade Organisation, as well as commodity traders.

Zurich also has these sectors but is better known for its concentration of Swiss-based, international financial institutions such as UBS, Credit Suisse, Zurich Insurance and Swiss Re, among others.

Is there a difference in terms of salaries for the same jobs / positions in each city?

There is no significant difference for professionals, in salary and compensation levels, according to Surber.

He pointed out that salaries in all major Swiss cities are at similar levels, with differences typically occurring between major Swiss cities and smaller, regional areas, and within small to medium organisations.

Compensation levels also vary across industries and according to the level of experience and the type of role.

READ MORE: What is the average salary for (almost) every job in Switzerland

Demand is especially strong right now in sectors such as technology, healthcare and life sciences, as well as the private market industry.

For job seekers who are new to either city, Surber recommends building your professional network, for example by joining local chambers of commerce and / or professional associations.

These articles provide more information about finding work:

‘It’s competitive’: Essential advice for finding a job in Zurich

How hard is finding work in Zurich without speaking German?

Why finding a job in Switzerland is set to become easier
 

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