Recruitment: Some sectors can't find staff

Many Swiss companies are struggling to recruit

The Swiss labor market is continuing to recover: Unemployment is falling, while the number of job vacancies is rising. Employers in some sectors are desperately looking for skilled workers. We look at which factors are additionally hampering recruitment, and at their impact on employment in the individual sectors.

Employment is increasing again in Switzerland

The COVID-19 crisis has taken a heavy toll on the Swiss labor market. In the second quarter of 2020, amid the first lockdown, total employment was down 0.9% year-on-year on a seasonally adjusted basis – the sharpest quarterly drop in nearly 30 years. Following a temporary setback during the second lockdown in early 2021, employment has been picking up again since the spring. In fact, it was already about 0.9 percentage points above its pre-crisis level by the end of September 2021.

Rising employment on Swiss labor market

Rising employment on Swiss labor market

Total employment: Figures as of end of each quarter, index Q4 2019 = 100; ILO unemployment and reg. unemployed: average quarterly figures; seasonally adjusted values

Source: Federal Statistical Office, State Secretariat for Economic Affairs, Credit Suisse
Last data point: Q3 2021 (employed, registered unemployed), Q2 2021 (unemployed as per ILO definition)

Swiss companies are struggling to hire staff

The ongoing recovery in the jobs market is also reflected in the search for personnel – in other words, an increase in labor market tightness. The latter refers to the ratio between job vacancies and unemployed persons, and is an indicator of how difficult it is to fill vacancies from the employer's point of view. A figure above 1 shows that – simply put – the demand for labor outweighs the supply. A value below 1 indicates that the opposite is the case.

The number of vacancies in the Swiss labor market in the third quarter of 2021 was only slightly short of the number of unemployed persons – meaning that in recent quarters it has once again become more difficult for companies to fill vacant positions with the right personnel. The labor market is particularly tight in the IT industry, but also in parts of the industrial sector (such as chemicals/pharmaceuticals and mechanical engineering) as well as healthcare and social services, with many companies currently experiencing recruitment problems.

More difficult for Swiss employers to hire

More difficult for Swiss employers to hire

Labor market tightness: relationship between vacancies (estimates based on Jobradar [x28] and Adecco Group Swiss Job Market Index) and unemployment; indicator of recruitment problems: proportion of companies responding (weighted by employment) that qualified staff were difficult or impossible to find; dotted lines: four-quarter moving average

Source: Swiss Federal Statistical Office, Adecco Group Switzerland/University of Zurich, x28 AG, Credit Suisse
Last data point: Q3 2021 (unemployed persons: Credit Suisse estimate)

Evidence of a mismatch on Swiss labor market

The increasing difficulty faced by Swiss companies in terms of finding suitable employees is not solely down to a lack of personnel. The fact is that in many cases the profiles of job-seekers either partly or completely fail to match the job advertised.

This mismatch may be in terms of sector, qualifications, or regions. The main reason for the mismatch at the moment is likely to be the divergent trends in individual sectors. In other words, the sectors in which the number of vacancies has seen the fastest growth in recent quarters are not necessarily those in which an especially large number of persons are looking for a job.

Major mismatch and plenty of career changes in hospitality

Recent quarters have brought to light a mismatch between vacancies and job-seekers in the hospitality sector in particular. As well as possible discrepancies between the professional skills and qualifications in demand and on offer, career changes are likely to play a key role in this context. In terms of the statistics, unemployed persons are assigned to the industry in which they last worked – although, of course, this does not mean that they are also looking for a new position in that sector. Our analysis shows that an above-average number of people in the hotel and catering sector switched industries or quit the labor market altogether in 2020 (in order to start a training program or continuing education, for example).

Swiss hospitality characterized by high level of sector switching

Swiss hospitality characterized by high level of sector switching

Respondents who were employed in Q4 2019, based on status in Q4 2020, in % (n=8443, who were surveyed in both quarters); brackets: results should be treated with caution given small sample size.

Source: Swiss Federal Statistical Office (Swiss Labor Force Survey – SLFS), Credit Suisse

In view of the increasingly tight labor market, companies in Switzerland are currently experiencing greater recruitment difficulties than they were a few quarters ago. This also increases the pressure on them to offer better working conditions and higher wages in order to attract the right workers. All in all, we expect nominal wage growth of 0.8% in 2022.

In addition, employment is expected to show average annual growth of 1.2% (in full-time equivalents) in 2022, with a rise of 0.4 percentage points likely this year.

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