Switzerland could ‘lack 700,000 workers’ in decade’s time

There are worries that the shortage will be compounded by limits on immigration © Keystone / Gaetan Bally

The head of the Swiss Employers’ Association has warned that Switzerland is facing a shortage of 700,000 workers in ten years’ time – and that immigration was key to plug the gap.

This content was published on January 24, 2020 - 11:30
RTS/ media/

The numbers go further than previous estimates, among others made by Swiss bank UBS, Swiss public television RTS said on Friday.

The Swiss Employers’ Association’sExternal link Valentin Vogt said in a recent interview in the St Galler TagblattExternal link newspaper and other media outlets that over the next decade around one million babyboomers would retire, but that that there would only be 500,000 employees following on. There are also far more older people taking their pensions than young people coming into the labour market, he explained.

 “We estimate that there will be 200,000 jobs created. But this means in ten years’ time we will have a shortage of 700,000 workers,” Vogt said.

Skilled workers

UBS has said that it expects the gapExternal link to be a maximum of 500,000 in ten year’s timeExternal link, which is about 10% of the working age population in 2030.  Daniel Kalt, head economist at the bank, told RTS that most affected would be the technical professions. “IT workers, engineers, these are rare. In general, we are going to create a huge number of jobs which are normally done by women. Lots of manual workers, for example in the building trade, are going to have to change to care roles.”

Another survey, published in November 2019, also pointed the shortage of skilled workers becoming even more acute in Switzerland.

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The Swiss Employers’ Association recognizes the importance of women on the labour market and has suggested that those working very part-time should up their work percentages where possible. But for now, - mindful of a forthcoming public vote on a right-wing proposal to limit immigration and cancel a deal with the European Union on the free movement of people - its main message is on immigration.

The association said it was imperative that the initiative was rejected by voters on May 17. There was no solution to the worker shortage without immigration, Vogt said.

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The call comes as the Global Talent Competitiveness Index (GTCI) this week said that Switzerland was the world’s most attractive country for skilled workers.

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