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Job and career

Under pressure, but not without orientation: Young people are dealing with the changing labor market. Switzerland remains a special case. The IT tech industry is by far the most popular work sector, except in Switzerland.

The 2018 Credit Suisse Youth Barometer begins with a dismal finding: A stunning percentage of young people in the United States (79 percent), Brazil (74 percent) and Singapore (76 percent) worry that "my job will not be needed in the future" Figure1.1. In these three very different economies, a large majority of 16- to 25-year-olds feel anxious. They expect technological advances to fundamentally change the labor market, and they are not confident that they will still have or be able to find a job in this new world.

International comparison: Future of work

In Switzerland, "only" 34 percent are worried that their jobs will disappear. There are two possible explanations for the Swiss results. It may be that Switzerland lags behind international labor market trends, and that the shock is yet to come. Or perhaps Switzerland is better prepared to meet the challenges posed by digitization, automation and artificial intelligence. "Socially, economically and politically, we are well prepared to deal with change," says Boris Zürcher, head of SECO's Labour Directorate, arguing in favor of the second explanation.

Responses to the next question confirm that in their perceptions of the digital revolution, young people in Switzerland differ from their peers in Asia as well as North and South America: Respondents in the United States (60 percent), Brazil (62 percent) and Singapore (68 percent) agree that individuals have better job prospects if they have a professional online network and are active on social media. In Switzerland, only a minority hold that view (42 percent). The new work environment is also reflected in the kinds of jobs respondents would like to have. They would prefer to work in the IT/tech sector. While this industry is perceived as extremely attractive in the United States (75 percent), Brazil (72 percent) and Singapore (75 percent), only 43 percent of Swiss respondents are drawn to such occupations. It's no wonder that we hear frequent complaints about a lack of tech workers in Switzerland.

International comparison: Favorite business sectors for work

Young people regularly list tourism as one of the sectors they would most like to work in; this year it ranks second on their wish list. It is followed by the media – which may seem surprising at first, given that media consumption is on the decline among the young. Presumably they are including social media in this category as well as new types of jobs, such as influencer and blogger. Government-related careers, which are particularly popular in Switzerland, rank fourth (education), fifth (administration) and seventh (health care). Among traditional employers in the business sector, banks, commercial businesses and the pharmaceutical industry are in sixth, eighth and twelfth place, respectively.

Today's young people may be somewhat anxious, but they cannot be accused of being aimless. Seventy-five percent of respondents in all four countries have clear plans for their lives and try to achieve their goals, even in the face of adversity. They can easily imagine starting their own business (half of all respondents, but only 39 percent in Switzerland) and they are prepared to take risks. Young people in all of the countries believe that continuing education is important. Between 83 percent and 93 percent agree with the statement that "You have to continue learning your whole life long".

Switzerland: Most important results

The determination they express probably has something to do with a challenging economic situation. Seventy-three percent of respondents would be happy if their lives were as good as those of their parents. In the 20th century that would have been perceived as a very modest goal. Young people seem to be looking for new ways to deal with the challenging situation in which they find themselves; one example is the extremely popular sharing economy. Another positive finding is that nearly half of respondents want to take responsibility for society.

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