According to a recent report, the number of job advertisements in Switzerland climbed by 47% year over year for the first quarter of 2022. This compared to a Credit Suisse forecast from Q4/21 which predicted falling unemployment with vacant positions rising.
However good the news is, it should be noted that there are significant differences in the numbers depending on the industry sector. In 2022, overall employment growth is forecast at 1.2% with wages rising by 0.8% during the same period. In this post, we look at which sectors and skills have the best outlook for 2022 in Switzerland.
As the post-Covid economic boom gathers momentum, there is a growing demand for skilled workers required to expand production and services from companies in all sectors. The ETH Swiss Economic Institute (KOF) Business Tendency Surveys record increasing complaints from companies about staff shortages, with the number of unemployed persons falling sharply. With companies from all sectors planning to expand, the KOF Swiss market index rose 11.5% for Q1/22.
Skills leading the way
Nearly half of the vacancies advertised now include digital skills as a requirement, with even basic digital skills being listed as a must have. This is where the demand for highly skilled workers is higher:
- Content management 23%
- Network, system and data management 19%
- Digital business management 18%
- Software management 16%
- Industry specific ICT 16%
According to the recent Credit Suisse forecast, the most robust industry sectors in Switzerland are:
- Pharmaceutical – Q3/21 showed sector exports hit a record of just under CHF 26 billion. This equates to around almost a third of all Swiss goods exported and around 5.5% of the total growth figure for Swiss pharma of 18%. The forecast in demand for Pharmaceuticals remains strong for the coming months.
- Information Technology – The IT sector is now even more robust than in 2019 before the pandemic. In Q4/21 56% of companies viewed their business situation as positive – the highest level since 2017. Although corporate investment collapsed generally during the pandemic, a recovery is now well underway and the IT sector should continue to benefit as a result.
- Engineering, electrical and metal industry – Q3/ 2021 saw exports above the pre-crisis level. At the same time, primary product inventories fell sharply during the same period. The balance between companies considering inventories as being too high or too low slumped to a level of 12% in September. Bottle necks in international supply chains were to blame. However, demand for exports is forecast to remain high, with a slight risk of productivity declines – which could affect the unemployment levels.
- Watch industry – A strong demand from China, the US and the UK saw exports record a growth of 4.3% year on year for Q3/21. In many European markets however, demand remained weak at below pre-Covid levels. Reduced numbers of tourists, especially from Asia was one reason for this, and this is not likely to change in the coming months. China’s share of the total watch exports should remain strong, supporting the employment levels in the watch industry.
- Hospitality Sector – According Jobradar x28, a web-portal monitoring the Swiss work market, the hospitality sector recorded the third-highest number of vacancies in Q3/21. This behind healthcare and retailing. Hospitality also has the highest vacancy rate after the IT sector. However, during the pandemic, hospitality experienced a high unemployment rate, pointing to a mismatch in open positions versus actual job seekers. Also the Regional Employment Centres statistics in Switzerland assign unemployed persons to the last sector in which they were active before losing their job, but this does not necessarily mean they are looking for a new job in that sector.
- 18% of surveyed workers from the hospitality sector commenced activity in a different sector from the end of 2019 to the end of 2020, while a further 10% left the labor market altogether.
- The equivalent figures across all other sectors stood at only 9% leaving the sector and 4% leaving the market altogether.
After a period of uncertainty and redundancies during the Covid pandemic, Q3/21 and Q1/22 witnessed an increase in job vacancies and a reduction in unemployment. There has also been a shift of workers from sectors such as Hospitality to retrain and join new industries. IT and the Pharmaceutical sector continue to lead the way both in terms of job vacancies and earnings potential. Engineering, while showing signs of recovery, is still feeling the effects of supply chain issues. Tourism a key sector both in and outbound for the Swiss economy, continues to feel the absence of certain markets, especially Asia – which has had a knock on effect with regards to hospitality and the watch sector.
The ongoing, strained geo-political situation also continues to have a strong influence on the economy and inflation. In its first seven weeks, the war in Ukraine triggered massive refugee flows, increased inflation by driving up prices on food and oil, and dented prospects for European growth. The World Bank is now predicting the conflict could cause more economic damage across eastern Europe and parts of Asia than the coronavirus pandemic.
Finally – in times of uncertainty, it sometimes pays to reflect on experienced voices from the past. Winston Churchill is one such voice, recognised for his resilience and calm attitude, who famously said “It is a mistake to try to look too far ahead. The chain of destiny can only be grasped one link at a time.”
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