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UBS warns of a looming shortage of workers in Switzerland

© Sebnem Ragiboglu |

The Swiss bank UBS estimates there could be a shortfall of 500,000 workers in Switzerland in the coming 10 years as the baby boomer generation retires.

However, the bank predicts the shortfall will not be even across all industries. Some sectors are expected to stagnate. Workers in these industries might find it harder to find work.

Demand for workers is expected to be high in the health and care sectors but low in manufacturing. In general, growth is expected in sectors that predominantly hire women, while some predominantly hiring men will stagnate. This might push men into traditionally female occupations and increase pay for these jobs as demand outstrips supply.

The bank suggests several solutions for coping with the challenge, including higher female workforce participation – 80% of women work in Switzerland but 45% work only part-time, greater integration of the unemployed, and more people working beyond the official retirement age. It suggests a flexible approach to retirement with incentives directed at those in industries with labour shortages.

In the past, additional demand for workers was largely met by a high level of immigration. To fill the estimated shortfall over the next ten years, Switzerland would need an estimated net annual immigration of more than 100,000 people, a level that would meet considerable political and social resistance and which might strain Switzerland’s relationship with the EU, argues the bank. For these reasons, it recommends other homegrown options for expanding the workforce.

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