Head of Badenoch & Clark
The Coronavirus moved stealthily across Switzerland in early Spring. Little did we know how significantly it would alter our lives. What was striking though was the willingness to adapt and fight, even during the darkest economic times Switzerland had faced in decades.
In the end, it was less severe than feared. The Swiss economy proved resilient. Consequently, Swiss companies are now racing to get back to business now that the lockdown has come to an end.
It will not, however, be a return to business as usual. Needs have changed. New jobs might be created. And, the shortage for skilled talent in Switzerland could get even tighter. However, I believe Switzerland will be left with a much more dynamic job market in this post-Coronavirus world.
The Swiss job market should recover quickly
During the depths of the crisis, Swiss companies paused hiring. You see this today. There are now 27% fewer jobs listed in the second quarter of 2020, than in the first quarter prior to the lockdown (according to the Adecco Swiss Job Index).
However, this does not mean that Swiss companies have less of a need for skilled talent. Plans were put on hold because of the uncertainty created by the lockdown. Now that public life is slowly returning, companies have a much clearer picture of where their businesses stand. Pent up ambitions remain, which could see a significant increase in recruitment in the coming quarters.
A recovery in the job market could, therefore, be swift. The Swiss government’s rapid response to the crisis to limit the economic fallout was particularly effective. At the start of the lockdown, it launched a massive CHF 60 billion stimulus package, which equates to roughly 10% of Switzerland’s GDP. Consequently, the unemployment rate is only forecast to rise to 3.8% this year,1 which is moderate when compared internationally.
Many new jobs might be created in a post-pandemic world
Skilled workers remain extremely important in Switzerland. The wealth they create helps the country maintain a strong economy, enjoy sustainable economic growth and support one of the highest living standards in the world. This is unlikely to change for many existing high-skilled roles that require fresh talent.
There could, however, be a new whole new set of high-skilled positions created in this post-pandemic world.
Supply chain professionals
Many companies were scarred by the supply chain disruption caused by the coronavirus. Subsequently, they may need to invest more in their supply chain security. Maintaining a speedy and effective supply of goods will, therefore, increase in importance.
New supply chain roles might emerge. These include planners, analysts and technology specialists in this field. Their purpose will be to increase efficiency across existing supply chains, plus identify and reduce exposure to certain risks. This could lead to greater responsiveness and an operation that can quickly shift between low and high volumes of demand in the future.
More skilled logistic professionals will be needed in the future to ensure order fulfilment, warehousing, and transportation and delivery management. During the crisis, many Swiss companies quickly realised how vulnerable their transportation networks were. In many instances, they were quickly overwhelmed, which led to long delays.
This experience wasn’t limited to Switzerland. Some of the world’s largest and most technologically advanced distributors also suffered setbacks. For instance, Amazon saw significant disruptions during the coronavirus lockdown. It had to hire an additional 100,000 members of staff to cope with the upsurge in demand.
The crisis has therefore, created an opportunity for Swiss companies to invest more in logistics. This will involve newer technologies and techniques that will require an even greater skill set to manage. Consequently, new roles are likely to be created and demand for candidates in these positions could be fierce.
Even before the crisis, changes in technology and new ways of working were disrupting the job market. The Coronavirus lockdown only served to highlight this trend: for example, if it wasn't for technology, working remotely would have been impossible for many skilled professionals.
The coronavirus has therefore reframed business minds on the importance technology plays in modern work. Subsequently, we might see greater investment in new technologies, such as artificial intelligence, big data and automation, which in turn will create new high-skilled roles. These roles may emerge in supply chain management and logistics, plus many other industries and sectors.
This will have a significant impact on Switzerland. In a recent McKinsey study, 14% of the global workforce will have to switch occupations or acquire new skills by 2030 because of automation and artificial intelligence.2 Rapid change in this new technological age will therefore, only serve to increase the skill shortage in Switzerland.
There will be a new skills revolution
Other additional skills will be needed in this new age we are now entering. These won’t just be driven by technological change. They include project and programme management skills, strategic leadership, having an innovative and entrepreneurial mindset and the ability to communicate well.
The Coronavirus has therefore created a new world order for skills and jobs. It has radically changed our perception of the job market. Switzerland will be particularly affected by these changes because it thrives on highly skilled workers. These changes will be dramatic in Switzerland, but they will also create many new job opportunities. I’m therefore, very optimistic about the future of Switzerland’s job market.