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Today in Switzerland: A round-up of the latest news on Wednesday

Apartments with balconies have been in demand in Switzerland during the pandemic. Photo by Anna Tarazevich from Pexels
Apartments with balconies have been in demand in Switzerland during the pandemic. Photo by Anna Tarazevich from Pexels
Find out what's going on today in Switzerland with The Local's short roundup of the news.

Peak of Omicron wave to hit Switzerland in the next two weeks

The cases attributed to Omicron, which is responsible for nearly 77 percent of all infections in Switzerland, is expected to reach its peak in the last week of January, according to Tanja Stadler, head of Covid-19 Task Force.

At the end of this wave, between 65 and 85 percent of Switzerland’s population should have immunity against Omicron, she said.

READ MORE: ‘40,000 cases daily in Zurich’ as authorities warn of triage for the unvaccinated

“We expect the number of cases to rise, then stabilise or decrease”, noted Virginie Masserey, head of the infection control section at the Federal Office of Public Health.

As far as healthcare system is concerned,  hospitalisations linked to the Delta variant are on the decline, while those linked to Omicron “have not yet been observed”, she said.

The most sought-after housing during the pandemic: spacious and away from cities

More spacious accommodations, preferably with a balcony or a garden and outside urban centres, were most in demand in Switzerland in the second half of 2021, according to a report by the Federal Housing Commission (FHC).

The home-working obligation also meant the Swiss favoured properties with an extra room to set up an office.

FHC also reports that the number of people wanting to buy property during the pandemic has increased, resulting in higher prices.

READ MORE: Swiss property prices see strongest rise in years

Lack of qualified personnel threatens Switzerland labour market

With nearly 150,000 people currently in quarantine, placing Switzerland’s critical infrastructure at risk, Omicron offers a foretaste of what could become a huge problem for the country in the years to come: impending shortage of trained workers.

The reason is that the number of people retiring is higher than that of new employees.

Consequently, a gap is growing between the demand from the economy, which is constantly creating new jobs, and the ever-shrinking supply of skilled labour — employees who have a vocational diploma or university degree.

“The impact on the labour market will be huge,” said Tino Senoner, director of Dynajobs, who predicts a shortage of 365,000 specialised workers by 2025.

More foreign students enrolled at Swiss universities

The reputation of Switzerland’s higher education system has not lessened during the pandemic: the number of international students continued to increase in 2020, according to new figures released by the Federal Statistical Office.

And a similar upward trend was recorded in 2021 as well.

At the start of the 2020 school year, nearly 12,300 new foreign students attended Swiss educational institutions, an increase of 4 percent over the previous year.

Nationals of neighbouring countries constitute the majority of international students. But the number of Chinese citizens is also increasing : between 2019 and 2020, it went up by more than a quarter (27 percent) at the bachelor’s and master’s level.

READ MORE: How much universities in Switzerland charge foreigners compared to locals

If you have any questions about life in Switzerland, ideas for articles or news tips for The Local, please get in touch with us at [email protected]


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