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Accurity Blog

At the end of June 2022, Switzerland recorded a record low unemployment rate of 2% and with more than 66’000 jobs available across all sectors in for the same period, many companies in Switzerland are now struggling to fill vacant positions.

Despite the Covid pandemic leading to lay-offs in most sectors, the number of overall job vacancies has increased – while the corresponding unemployment rate has fallen. The sectors where shortages are particularly prevalent have not fundamentally changed as a result of Covid, and the top 5 areas where skilled labour is in short supply are:

  • Engineering
  • IT
  • Technicians
  • Pharma / Biotech
  • Legal

 

In this post, we take a closer look at the IT Sector.

According to Swiss ICT, there is a shortage of skilled IT workers and for every unemployed ICT specialist, there are four vacancies. The Swiss economy will need 117,900 additional ICT specialists by 2028. This means that demand is currently out-stripping supply.

The conclusions of a recent SECO report entitled: “Observatory on the Agreement on the Free Movement of Persons between Switzerland and the EU” is that the Swiss IT industry is suffering from an acute shortage of skilled workers.

  • The report shows that in Spring 2022, both domestic and foreign labour-force unemployment matched pre-crisis levels again for the first time. This equates to unemployment now dropping to its lowest level for 20 years.
  • However, despite the positive unemployment news, the SECO report also points to a shortage of skilled workers across several sectors. This position is further accentuated by the fact that qualified and experienced ICT personnel are required in almost all other non ICT sectors as well.
  • Mr. Boris Zürcher, Head of the Labour Directorate at SECO, explained that as a direct result of digitalization, the number of people now being employed in the IT Sector has increased by over 60 percent since 2010.
    • Although demand remains high, it is becoming increasingly difficult for companies to find the right IT staff. Swiss domestic labour potential in this area, is now practically exhausted.
    • In addition, there are even indications that, despite high wages, the recruitment options under the free movement of persons option, are now also being exhausted.
  • In recent years, companies have therefore increasingly had to rely on workers from third countries such as the United States, Great Britain and India to come work in Switzerland. . The situation could become even more acute going forward, as there is also now a shortage of skilled workers in many EU countries.

 

 

So what IT Jobs are particularly in demand in Switzerland? According to various job websites, some of the in-demand roles include:

  • Software Architecture / Engineers
  • Business Informatics/Data Analytics
  • System Engineering
  • Cyber Security
  • IT Support
  • Digital Designer /UX

Currently only about one third of ICT workers in Switzerland actually work directly in the ICT sector. The remaining two thirds are employed across multiple sub-sectors as IT specialists. ICT is the seventh largest professional field in Switzerland and the number of ICT workers is still growing 2.5 times quicker than the total number of employees. Some other interesting facts:

  • The current size of the ICT workforce in Switzerland is currently around 199’000. (This represents an increase of over 44,000 since 2010).
  • The number of new ICT jobs that will be created over the next eight years is expected to be around 37’000.
  • The predicted size of the ICT workforce in 2026 is estimated at 236’200.
  • The number of ICT specialists the Swiss economy will need over the next eight years is predicted to be around 88’500.

To substantiate this, a recent post on janzz.technology reported a current shortage of over 40’000 ICT specialists for Switzerland. This is in line with the SECO report confirming that digitalisation is now reaching most sectors, and where only around 50% of current demand can be met.

 

 

 

Potential Solutions for the Future
So what are the options for Switzerland to fill demand for ICT workers? According to various industry reports, a number of actions needs to be taken by Swiss Government as well as Swiss Business and related associations to improve the current situation.

  • Basic school education in Switzerland should include digital and social skills in the curriculum.
  • The Swiss higher education system needs to increase the number of MINT students (Mathematics, Informatics, Natural Science, and Technology) it produces.
  • The Government needs to relax restrictions on Non EU/EFTA workers.
  • Governmental support should be given for digital transformation for Swiss companies especially SME’s which make up over 99% of the total number of companies operating in Switzerland.
  • Companies need to develop a clear digital strategy and promote the digital skills of all employees and embed digital skills at managerial level.

In summary: Switzerland has a robust economy supported by a healthy population of world leading companies operating across several “in-demand” sectors including: Finance, Banking, Engineering, Pharmaceutical, Biotechnology and ICT to name just a few. Unemployment levels are at a record low, coupled with significant shortages for skilled workers. ICT touches most sectors and the demand for qualified and experienced IT workers in Switzerland is currently out-striping supply.

In summary: Switzerland has a robust economy supported by a healthy population of world leading companies operating across several “in-demand” sectors including: Finance, Banking, Engineering, Pharmaceutical, Biotechnology and ICT to name just a few. Unemployment levels are at a record low, coupled with significant shortages for skilled workers. ICT touches most sectors and the demand for qualified and experienced IT workers in Switzerland is currently out-striping supply.

At this conjecture in time, the words of one of the great personalities in IT and co-founder of Apple  – Steve Jobs,  take on even more relevance. He famously said: “It’s not a faith in technology. It’s faith in people.”