For members


Which jobs are in demand in Switzerland right now – and how much can you earn?

The Swiss jobs market is rebounding strongly from the pandemic, with thousands of companies advertising vacant positions in several sectors with lucrative wages. This where most jobs are.

Which jobs are in demand in Switzerland right now - and how much can you earn?
Nurses are in demand in Switzerland right now. Photo by RODNAE Productions / Pexels

Switzerland’s labour market has recovered well from the Covid pandemic and it seems not to have been impacted (so far, at least) by the war in Ukraine.

In fact, many sectors are looking for qualified workers, according to the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO), which reports that the unemployment rate was a record-low 2.3 percent in April, and the number of job seekers is currently 25 percent lower than at the same time in 2021.

READ MORE: How the Swiss job market rebounded from the Covid pandemic

Which sectors have most employment opportunities?

The consensus among recruitment agencies and industry associations is that the highest number of vacancies is currently in IT and catering sectors, where job vacancies increased in April by 1.5 percent over the previous month, according to new research by Michael Page recruitment agency.

This is a national figure, however. In the French-speaking regions alone, the number of jobs offered in these two sectors rose by 4.6 percent.

As far as the catering branch is concerned, Claude Meier, director of the Hotellerie Suisse industry association, called the shortage of skilled workers in his sector “very acute”.

“Even before the pandemic, it was difficult to find staff. Now the situation has worsened”, he said.

However, other branches are experiencing a boom as well.

Jobs in healthcare, construction, and sales are plentiful, and there is also a big demand for electricians, carpenters and gardeners. “The shortage of skilled employees is a huge problem. We are desperately looking for trained workforce”, Barbara Jenni from the Jardin Suisse industry association told Watson news platform.

In the health field, more than 13,000 nursing positions are vacant, and hospitals are desperately looking for staff. This shortage can have serious repercussions on patient care, as medical facilities could be forced to limit the number of beds.

Labour shortage affects the whole economy — this is how

Just like in the health sector, shortage of workers could have repercussions on the functioning of other industries as well. For instance, companies may not be able to manufacture enough products, ensure timely delivery, or provide adequate customer service.

“If employers cannot fill their vacancies, productivity and economic output will fall in the long term”, according to Simon Wey, Chief Economist at the Swiss Employers’ Association.

“Ultimately, the entire economy suffers from the labor shortage”, he added.

There is, however, a bright spot in the shortage of workers: salary increases, with wages expected to grow in Switzerland more than in previous years.

A recent survey of 1,550 Swiss companies by KOF economic research institute at ETH university in Zurich, found that a number of employers are currently expecting an average wage growth of 1.6 percent for the year.

The differences are significant though among employers in terms of wage increases, KOF said: more than 40 percent of the companies surveyed expected wages to grow by 2 percent or more within 12 months.

However, about a quarter of companies expected wage growth to be of only 0.5 percent or less.

EXPLAINED: What is the 13th-month salary in Switzerland and how is it calculated?

Which sectors could benefit from higher wages?

Increases of more than 2 percent are expected in the financial services sector, in information services and information technology, as well as in the hospitality industry, according to KOF.

In other sectors, however, wage increases will be lower — for instance, those working in wholesale, chemical industries, and architecture, will receive raises of 1.5 percent and employees the healthcare and education sectors increases of around 1 percent are forecast.

Unfortunately for employees in real estate and printing industry, no salary increases are on the horizon.

Around 90 percent of Swiss companies adjust their wages only once a year, KOF reports: in January (66 percent), in March or April (15 percent), and in December (9 percent).

Will war in Ukraine affect Swiss wages?

Usually, political or economic events don’t impact wages immediately, as the market reactions are somewhat delayed. 

This means either salaries or employment are unlikely to be affected by the war this year but may feel its consequences in 2023.

READ MORE: Everything foreigners need to know about trade unions in Switzerland

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For members


What is a Swiss collective bargaining agreement — and how could it benefit you?

If you are employed in one of Switzerland’s large or medium-sized companies, chances are your salary and work conditions are determined by a collective agreement. What exactly is this?

What is a Swiss collective bargaining agreement — and how could it benefit you?

Switzerland’s labour law is quite comprehensive, encompassing working conditions, employees’ rights, annual leave and other time off, protection from discrimination, and gender equality, among other aspects of employment.

In addition to the basic rules and conditions outlined in this legislation, many employees are also covered by the collective bargaining agreement (CLA), a kind of contract that is negotiated between Switzerland’s trade unions and employers or employer organisations. 

It is estimated that roughly half of Switzerland’s workforce of about 5 million people are covered by a CLA.

In fact, the strength of Switzerland’s CLAs means that there is no federal minimum wage, as minimum standards are often included in your bargaining agreement. 

A handful of Swiss cantons have put in place a minimum wage, mostly in the French and Italian-speaking parts of the country. 

READ MORE: Everything you need to know about minimum wage in Switzerland

What do these agreements include?

Generally speaking, they cover a minimum wage for each type of work; regulations relating to work hours; payment of wages in the event of illness or maternity; vacation and days off; and protection against dismissal.

READ MORE: Everything you need to know about annual leave in Switzerland

Other important employment-related matters are also subject to negotiations — for instance, pension fund regulations, early retirement, conflict resolution procedures, and funding of training.

CLAs are sector-specific; in other words, they take into account the particular aspects of each branch. As an example, Switzerland’s largest labour union, The Swiss Federation of Trade Unions (UNIA), maintains 265 collective agreements in the areas of industry and construction.

Collective agreements can also be company-specific — for instance, Coop, Migros, or SWISS airline — or specific to a certain region.

READ MORE: Everything foreigners need to know about trade unions in Switzerland

It is therefore clear that CLAs benefit employees in a number of ways, not the least of which is knowing what to expect from the company you work for and being sure that your rights are protected and not subject to the employer’s whimsy.

What if your company has not concluded a CLA?

In this case, you are still protected by the above-mentioned labour legislation, which ensures that your welfare and rights are being respected.

You will also sign an employment contract with your company, which outlines your salary, rights and obligations, as well as everything your employer can and cannot do, or expect from you.

READ MORE: Which jobs are in demand in Switzerland right now – and how much can you earn?

According to a government site, “in professional sectors that do not have a collective employment agreement, the federal or cantonal authorities can establish a standard employment contract …The employer can only modify these conditions to offer better terms for employees”.

The system seems to be working well, as evidenced by a survey carried out by EY consultants, which found that 87 percent of workers in Switzerland are happy with their jobs.

Strikes are rare in Switzerland

Another proof of employee satisfaction is that Swiss workers rarely go on strike.

Switzerland has a long tradition of avoiding industrial conflict through negotiations. Many sectors are governed by collective bargaining agreements which set conditions for employees.

That tradition is deeply rooted and also seen in the country’s politics, where compromise is important.

Some also argue that the fact people can voice their opinions through regular referendums reduces the potential for conflict in the workplace. 

READ MORE: Why strikes are rare in Switzerland