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Working in Switzerland: A weekly roundup of the latest job news

Find out all the latest information related to working in Switzerland with The Local's weekly roundup of job news.

Working in Switzerland: A weekly roundup of the latest job news
Lorry drivers are difficult to find in Switzerland. PAUL FAITH / AFP

Fewer unemployed people in Switzerland

The situation on the Swiss labour market brightened further in August, as the unemployment rate fell slightly.

This is due to the fact that construction and tourism activities have picked up during the summer and there is an increasing need for workers in these sectors.

Another proof of the improved state of the labour market is the number of job seekers, which fell by 4,768 in August compared to July. At the same time, the number of vacancies increased by 1,638 to 58,450.

Wage increases: Swiss union asks for 100 francs more per month

Salaries must rise by at least 2 percent, or 100 francs per month, according to the Swiss Trade Union Union (USS).

After having made significant efforts during the pandemic, Switzerland’s employees “must now be able to take advantage of the favourable economic situation that is benefiting the vast majority of sectors in Switzerland”, USS said.  

“For the moment, with few exceptions, the workers have not yet seen the slightest recognition of these efforts in terms of pay”.

Special attention must be given to the professions in which women are mainly employed. According to the USS, one concrete example is the health sector, where the level of pay is “very inadequate”.

Some job vacancies are difficult to fill

There is a shortage of employees in sectors such as nursing, construction, or long-haul driving, but these positions are difficult to fill because many of these jobs are difficult and poorly paid.

Nicky Le Feuvre , work sociologist at the University of Lausanne, is not surprised by these shortages, especially since Swiss workers are not interested in certain professions and these jobs depend largely on foreign or cross- border  employees.

 “What is even more surprising is that this phenomenon is still evident today. This means that even now, some people think twice about getting into ‘difficult’ jobs. ”

Did you know?

If you are looking for a job in Switzerland, you don’t have to wait to answer adverts in the newspaper or online.

You can send in your CV “spontaneously”, that is, propose your candidacy to any company you are interested in, even if it is not hiring at the moment.

Simply send a letter along with your CV to the Human Resources department, explaining why you would like to work at this particular company, and asking to keep your application on file in case a vacancy comes up.

Quite a few people in Switzerland who contact the company directly end up hired.

Useful links

Looking for a job in Switzerland or just want a little more information about working here, then check out the following links: 

The pros and cons of working in Switzerland

Everything you need to know about annual leave in Switzerland

How much do university graduates earn in Switzerland – and who earns the most?

The jobs roundup is new addition and we’d welcome any feedback or suggestions for areas it should cover. Please email us at [email protected]

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How much can you earn with a Swiss university degree?

Compulsory education ends in Switzerland at age 16, when students have a choice between going to a university or opting for a three-year vocational education and training (VET). Which of the two is most ‘profitable’ in terms of salaries?

How much can you earn with a Swiss university degree?

While for many people around the world universities are seen as the best paths toward rewarding careers, Switzerland is a bit different in this regard.

After compulsory education, about two-thirds of Swiss students opt for a VET pathway, a dual-track programme that includes two days in a vocational school and three days getting an on-the-job training in their chosen sector.

VET includes a variety of fields such as business and commercial, administration, retail, tourism, construction, information technology, arts, wellness services, as well as various trades — in all, 230 professions, according to Educationsuisse platform.

The other one-third of graduating students choose to attend a university.

Yet there are significant differences in wages between VET and university graduates.

Let’s look at VET first.

On average, five years after completing the vocational training, employees can expect to earn about 5,270 francs a month.

However, wages differ based on sectors.

In the IT, for instance, the salary is 1,100 francs above this average.

People who completed apprenticeships in electricity and mechanical construction can expect to earn 5,445 francs after five years, followed by architecture and construction (5,425 francs); accounting, marketing, and office work (5,367 francs), and the social sector (5,349 francs).

Lowest wages — below 5,000 a month — are in the retail and “personal services” sector.

READ ALSO: Why is vocational training so popular in Switzerland and how much can I earn?

What about people with university degrees?

Based on figures from the Federal Statistical Office, there is a considerable difference between salaries of VET and university graduates. And within the latter group, wages vary depending on the kind of institutions the students attended. 

Switzerland has several kinds of higher education establishments: cantonal universities and two federal polytechnic institutes: one in Zurich (ETH) and the other in Lausanne (EPFL). They are considered the ‘highest’ educational institutions.

Graduates of these establishments can earn as much as 10,170 francs a month.

Next are universities of applied sciences (nearly 9,000 francs a month), teacher-training colleges (8,480), and other specialised schools (8,175).

What if you attended a foreign university?

If you didn’t study at a Swiss higher education institution or complete an apprenticeship here, you can have your foreign qualifications recognised in Switzerland — and earn an equivalent salary (wages are based on the job and your position; not on your nationality).

Whether you are coming from the European Union or not will play an important role in this process, as Switzerland has adopted the EU’s system of mutual recognition of professional qualifications.