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TODAY IN SWITZERLAND

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

Citizenship training courses, Swiss wages, and other developments in The Local's short roundup of the news.

Today in Switzerland: A roundup of the latest news on Thursday
Swiss Alpine homes have become more expensive. Image by Pfüderi from Pixabay

Revealed: The most popular employers in Switzerland

The annual ranking of best Swiss companies by Randstadt recruiting agency shows, not surprisingly perhaps, that watch and chocolate manufacturers take three top positions.  

Survey respondents rated employers based on criteria they found most important, such as salary and benefits, pleasant working environment, work-life balance, and job security.

This is the ranking of the top-10 winners:

  1. Rolex
  2. Patek Philippe
  3.  Lindt & Sprüngli
  4.  Google
  5.  Flughafen Zürich AG
  6.  Swatch Group
  7.  Swiss International Air Lines
  8.  Pilatus Flugzeugwerke AG
  9.  Swiss Federal Railways
  10.  Raiffeisen bank

Ticino ‘citizenship courses’ sell out in a flash

Getting a spot in a citizenship training course, which is mandatory in the canton before foreigners can apply for naturalisation, is more difficult than obtaining tickets to a much-in-demand rock concert.

Once they open for enrolment, the courses, which are given every six months, sell out within hours, according to Ticino online (Tio) news portal.

Enrolment for the next course, which opened on Tuesday and “closed at lightning speed, left dozens of people out”, Tio reported.

“They should plan more courses”, a disgruntled would-be participant stated the obvious.

“They” do. The current number of programmes, around 50 a year, could be increased in 2023 to accommodate more applicants, according to the Institute of Continuing Education, which is responsible for organising the courses.

READ MORE: The ten most surprising questions on Switzerland’s citizenship exam

Wages in Switzerland fell last year

Nominal wages in Switzerland declined slightly — by 0.2 percent — in 2021 due to the Covid pandemic and inflation, according to new data from the Federal Statistical Office (FSO).

This is the first decline since the Swiss wage index was introduced in 1942.

At the same time, inflation rose by 0.6 percent in 2021. In real terms, employees in Switzerland had to accept a drop in their purchasing power of 0.8 percent.

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

The prices of second homes are soaring in Switzerland

If you are thinking of buying a holiday home in the Swiss Alps, you should probably wait a while.

The reason is that in 2021, prices for holiday homes and apartments experienced their strongest increase in 12 years — 10 percent more than 2020 — according to a new real estate study from UBS bank.

The greatest increases were observed in Graubünden and Obwalden.

“You can see a boom all over the Alpine regions,” said Maciej Skoczek, real estate expert at UBS.

For the first time since data collection started 15 years ago, no region in the Swiss Alps has recorded a drop in second home prices.

Not only that, but “fourteen of the destinations studied recorded double-digit growth”, Skoczek added.

By far the most expensive tourist destination is St. Moritz in Graubünden, where prices per square metre reach mind-boggling 19,500 francs, or 11 percent more than the previous year.

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 Thursday

Swiss forest rangers fear thieves will target trees for firewood, flights to US and Canada back to pre-pandemic levels and other news from Switzerland on Thursday.

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

Swiss forests could be targeted by those looking to stock up on firewood

With Switzerland and other European nations threatened by a shortage of gas or electricity this winter those who have fireplaces have taken to stocking up on supplies fo firewood. 

The chairman of the Federal Electricity Commission, Werner Luginbühl, even recommended on Sunday that people should build up reserves in the event of a disaster scenario.

But as a result forest rangers fear many will take to the forests to illegally build up their supplies.

Neighbouring Germany has already seen people take to the forests to chop down trees for firewood, but so far Switzerland has been spared this kind of phenomenon.

But perhaps not for long.

Thomas Studer, director of a forestry operation in the canton of Solothurn told 20 Minutes: “Wood supplies are melting like snow in the sun.”

He fears there will be a rise in thefts in the coming weeks in the Swiss forests.

He said many walkers were already picking up branches that have fallen to the ground. He urged people to be responsible but warned that thieves would be punished because Swiss forests were not “self-service”.

“It’s theft and therefore punishable,” he said.

Airline tickets from Swiss to US and Canada reach pre-pandemic levels

Airline Edelweiss, a subsidiary of Swiss, has reported that its takings for July exceeded pre-pandemic levels, thanks in part to the renewed interest in flights from Switzerland to the US and Canada.

The carrier suggests it has seen “record” monthly figures for July thanks to the rebound in tourism and travel during the summer season.

In July, Edelweiss carried 304,039 passengers, up 3 percent compared to July 2019, the company said in a statement on Wednesday.

Flights to the United States, Canada and the Dominican Republic were particularly popular.

Parent company Swiss returned to profit in the first half after two years of losses caused by the coronavirus pandemic. The company is now aiming to return to operational profitability for the whole of 2022.

Swiss could represent Ukraine diplomatically in Russia

Ukraine has asked Switzerland to represent it diplomatically in Russia, Bern confirmed Wednesday, stressing though that
Moscow would need to accept the arrangement for it to go ahead, AFP reported on Wednesday.

Ever since Russia launched its full-scale invasion of Ukraine on February 24, Switzerland — renowned for its neutrality — has said it stood ready to provide diplomatic assistance and to serve as a go-between.

The foreign ministry said Wednesday that Ukraine had requested that Switzerland “assume a protecting power mandate” for Kyiv in Russia, confirming a story in the Luzerner Zeitung newspaper.

The foreign ministry explained that such protecting power mandates “allow states to maintain low-level relations and provide consular protection to nationals of the other state concerned”.

“The corresponding negotiations have been completed,” a ministry spokeswoman told AFP in an email.

Switzerland to impose stricter welfare rules for Ukrainian refugees

So far, refugees from Ukraine have received preferential treatment when it comes to social assistance applications, SRF reported. Unlike refugees admitted from other countries, wealthy Ukrainians have also been able to receive social assistance in Switzerland.

However, from now on, their assets in Ukraine will be taken into account during the applications, the report stated. This includes jewellery, cars, but also bank assets or properties in Ukraine.

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