How Swiss employers want to combat the skilled worker shortage

Sandra Sparrowhawk
Sandra Sparrowhawk - [email protected]
How Swiss employers want to combat the skilled worker shortage
A person works at a desk. Switzerland has a skilled worker shortage. Photo by Cytonn Photography on Unsplash

Whether working longer hours with more flexibility, upping the retirement age or attracting more talent from abroad, here's what Switzerland's Employers' Association say would help address the country's worker shortage.


The Swiss should not only work longer – until 70 and beyond – but also harder, at least according to Switzerland’s Employers’ Association (SAV) which recently presented eight measures which they believe would combat the country’s shortage of skilled workers.

The association, which represents 100,000 firms, highlighted that 120,000 jobs are currently vacant in the Alpine nation and the situation will get worse as people retire. 

Here's a look at the SAV's proposals to boost the workforce:

An increase in working hours and productivity

Switzerland’s working population works nearly 14 days less per year than it did a decade ago, according to studies. The decrease in working hours is a result of people choosing part-time work over full-time jobs as well as an increase in the number of vacation days, coupled with a rise in absenteeism and a drop in overtime work.

The employers’ association believes that Switzerland must increase its work volume by setting the framework for companies and society in such a way that motivates employees to work more - rather than further reducing working hours. Likewise, it finds that political initiatives that aim to reduce working hours need to be rejected in the future.

READ ALSO: What Swiss employers are doing to find hard-to-recruit staff


Better access to childcare

As of today, Switzerland still has too few third-party childcare places. On the one hand, there is an overall lack of childcare centres across the country, while on the other hand, the existing ones prove too expensive for parents to be able to afford and oftentimes result in one parent dropping out of work, according to experts. The association is calling for employers to provide family-friendly working conditions in their companies and - wherever possible - seek out flexible solutions for parents so that they may have an easier time combining family with working life.

The organisation also believes that the marriage tax penalty and the negative employment incentives should be abolished, and instead individual taxation be introduced, arguing that this would generate up to 60,000 additional full-time jobs.

Increased retirement age

Switzerland has one of the lowest retirement ages in Europe. On average, Swiss people leave the labour market at the age of 65, however, due to strict regulations and an outdated understanding of a career it is often impossible for employees to work beyond 65 - even if both they and the employer wish to.

The association finds that, in addition to a general increase in the retirement age, new working models could help older employees work longer - to 70 years and over.

READ ALSO: What is Switzerland's retirement age and will it rise?

Apprenticeships should be valued

Though higher qualification in Switzerland is progressing, many jobs in the modern working world do not necessarily require more academic training. For this reason, the organisation believes that Switzerland must ensure that apprenticeships, and in particular higher vocational training geared towards the labour market, retains the recognition it deserves in Swiss society.

A person studies at a desk.

A person studies at a desk. Photo by Unseen Studio on Unsplash

University courses should not be based on interest

The organisation further said that students should be encouraged to pick university courses that are in demand in the labour market rather than based on interest alone. This would ensure that society does not have to pay for unnecessary educational costs.


More workers from aborad should be welcomed

The employers' association further believes that labour market-driven immigration from EU/EFTA countries and from non-EU countries must be encouraged since the domestic skilled labour market alone – which it states should still be better exploited – won’t suffice to cover the Switzerland’s need for skilled workers in the near future.

READ ALSO: Switzerland's planned work quotas for third-country nationals

Working hours need to be flexible

In response to Switzerland’s Labour Code from the 1960s, which is tailored to industrial workers, the employers’ association finds that the law must be geared more closely to the current as well as future needs and demands of workers - a change that would include more relaxed working times.

People with disabilities need to kept in the labour market

Currently, a large number of workers are leaving the Swiss labour market due to physical and/or psychological limitations. This, the association says, could be remedied by providing the necessary support for existing workers facing medical difficulties as well as attempting to reintegrate those who can no longer provide their previous work back into the primary labour market as much as possible.


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