Firms fear vote impact on recruiting

There are too few highly qualified workers in Switzerland Keystone

Half of Swiss companies expect the recent vote to restrict the inflow of European Union workers to have a negative impact on their ability to fill jobs, according to a survey. At the same time, 36% of professions are experiencing a talent shortfall.

This content was published on April 16, 2014 - 11:50 and agencies

The government has three years to come up with a way of implementing February’s immigration vote, but firms are already beginning to second guess the potential measures and work out what impact it could have on their business.

A survey by UBS bank found that half of the 400 enterprises they polled predicted future problems for meeting their employment requirements. This would particularly affect cantons Zurich, Geneva and Vaud that currently absorb 45% of foreign workers.

But other cantons close to borders with other countries could also feel the consequences of the new regulations when they come into force. Almost all new jobs created in Jura and Ticino are filled by cross-border workers, according to UBS.

The employment market fears highlighted by UBS were largely echoed by Zurich-based executive headhunter Egon Zehnder in March.

But the rightwing Swiss People’s Party, which had backed the immigration vote, has consistently downplayed such comments as scaremongering, pointing out that Switzerland managed to fill skilled positions before it signed up to the EU’s free movement of persons accord.

Domestic solutions

UBS recommends that Switzerland does more to integrate women and older people into the work force. Switzerland has one of the lowest full-time employment rates for women (41%) among developed countries, the bank argued.

The State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO) also published figures on Wednesday that revealed that more than a third of professions lacked enough qualified workers to fill vacancies in Switzerland.

The problem is pronounced among the most highly qualified positions, particularly university educated employees in the engineering (85% shortfall), education (73%) and computer science sectors (60%).

The government is teaming up with the cantons and social partners to boost the hiring potential of the domestic workforce, SECO said.

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