Switzerland is highly dependent on skilled international workers and freelance contractors. The number of workers crossing the border daily into Switzerland daily reached 325,000 in 2019. To gauge the effect COVID-19 has had on demand for skilled international workers we look at the measures implemented by the Swiss Federal Government to combat the coronavirus pandemic
- At the onset of COVID-19, Switzerland implemented a range of stringent policies, including stay-at-home ‘lockdowns‘ and non-essential workplace closures. This affected daily cross-border commuters and contractors scheduled to come to Switzerland to work. Financial furlough support was extended to cover newly arrived foreign (and leased) workers.
- During the lockdown new permit applications were not processed but keeping the border open was deemed critical for the Swiss economy.
- From June 15, entry restrictions for workers from the Schengen Area countries were lifted. Swiss border controls with these countries ended. This included the free movement of individuals between Switzerland and all EU/EFTA countries and the United Kingdom.
In addition to a significant increase in remote working, we are seeing the impact of change in employment strategies across industry sectors and functions which could have longer-term implications for Switzerland’s GDP.
From a total workforce in Switzerland of approximately 5 million, around 1 million are foreign workers, 25% of which commute from outside the country. These specialists work increasingly through a Swiss labour leasing partner for their Swiss assignments. This trend can be traced to four main factors:
- Labour leasing allows companies to engage skilled specialists quickly in periods of high growth.
- The labour leasing mechanism brings agility and flexibility to HR staffing.
- Labour leasing supports risk-mitigation in times of crisis, such as the current pandemic.
- Cost savings can also be achieved by companies when engaging contractors.
As the country moves forward out of the pandemic, labour leasing offers companies respite during this time of uncertainty and supports flexible strategies.
Construction, ICT and Pharmaceuticals are leading the recovery so far and this looks set to continue into 2021 and beyond.
Retail, manufacturing and travel & tourism sectors have been badly hit by COVID-19. However in the ICT and pharmaceutical industries an increase in demand for skilled labour is driving the need for international specialists. Many of these positions are offered as fixed term contracts.
In order to help bridge the gap in demand for skilled international workers, now even non-EU students can obtain a residency permit for six months in order to look for a job in Switzerland that is consistent with their qualification.
Switzerland is a world leader in innovation and has the ability to attract skilled talent. The ETH university in Zurich is recognised as the top university in continental Europe. Technology leaders like Google, Microsoft and IBM operate important R&D sites nearby. They count on the concentration of technical excellence in Switzerland: regarded as Europe’s most stable work environment, Switzerland attracts skilled specialists from around Europe.
The lack of home-grown talent to fill vacant positions in the resilient sectors means that these will continue to engage specialists from outside Switzerland. COVID-19 has made Swiss industry leaders more flexible, but risk averse when hiring international skilled contractors for specialist roles.
Accurity GmbH was founded over 20 years ago and the original founders continue to lead the Accurity team with the same dedication to customer service and excellence as the day we started. Contractors are at the heart of our business. Whether you are an experienced contractor or moving to Switzerland to work as a contractor for the first time, we are here to look after you and your employment needs. “We make Switzerland easy for you”