Labour market stabilises at a high level: skilled catering and sales personnel currently have the best job prospects
Zurich, 5 July 2022 – The Swiss labour market broke records for the past three quarters in a row, but this trend has come to a temporary halt as global uncertainties have continued to rise in the first six months of 2022. However, the majority of occupational groups are benefiting from the post-pandemic economic recovery, as shown by a clear increase in job advertisements. Skilled personnel in catering and sales are at the forefront of this trend, with management the only occupational group that has not seen much change compared to the first six months of 2021. These are the findings of the Adecco Group Swiss Job Market Index, a scientifically substantiated survey developed by the University of Zurich’s Swiss Job Market Monitor.
The slump on the labour market seems to be caused by the changed economic climate. While Swiss companies took an overwhelmingly positive view of macroeconomic trends at the start of the year, this euphoria has become rather more muted in recent months. One only need look at the economic climate and the KOF Economic Barometer to see that stakeholders in Switzerland’s economy will soon be faced with a slowdown of economic growth. As a result, the Swiss Employers Confederation is forecasting aneconomic slowdown, warning that some companies have already started turning down orders that would require them to take on extra staff. . In addition, the conflict in Ukraine is leading to heightened geopolitical risks and limiting investment.
"The economic environment has become more uncertain for Swiss companies. Ongoing supply-chain issues and increasing energy prices are raising the cost of manufacturing and shrinking profit margins. Given the global economic slowdown, it can be assumed that international demand for Swiss-made goods could fall in the short to medium term. All these factors could lead to companies being more cautious with their HR planning than a few months ago."
Marcel Keller, Country Head at Adecco Switzerland
Clear improvement across all language regions
Comparing the labour market across the various language regions paints a wholly positive picture compared to the same quarter in the previous year. Both German-speaking Latin Switzerland (+28%) and French & Italian-speaking Latin Switzerland (+7%) have benefited from the post-Covid economic recovery. The lower increase in French & Italian-speaking Latin Switzerland compared to German-speaking Latin Switzerland can be explained by two factors. Job adverts within French & Italian-speaking Latin Switzerland started to rise again in Q1 2021, while German-speaking Latin Switzerland had to wait until Q2 2021 to see them increase. In turn, the index value for Q2 2021 was much higher in French & Italian-speaking Latin Switzerland than German-speaking Latin Switzerland. Furthermore, French & Italian-speaking Latin Switzerland have seen a drop in job adverts in the current quarter, compared to the previous quarter. Taken together, these factors have caused the year-on-year change in French & Italian-speaking Latin Switzerland to be substantially lower than in German-speaking Latin Switzerland.
All in all, the 14 occupational groups in the analysis displayed generally positive development between the first half of 2021 and the first half of 2022, with a clear increase in job advertisements noted for the majority of these occupational groups. Furthermore, all the groups, with the exception of management, have attained or exceeded their pre-pandemic level from the first six months of 2019. It is pleasantly surprising to see that 10 of the 14 occupational groups have broken historic records in the current six-month period. Only academic economics professions, management, skilled technology personnel, and skilled commercial, administration and trade personnel saw a higher index value in previous years than in the first six months of 2022.
Skilled catering and sales personnel in more demand than ever (+91%)
The occupational group with the largest positive change is the same group that was hit hardest by the coronavirus restrictions: skilled catering and sales personnel (including professionals like service workers, chefs and sales personnel). They have seen the largest increase of all the occupational groups, with a 91% increase in job advertisements compared to the first six months of 2021. After the resurgence of coronavirus restrictions in the first half of 2021 saw skilled catering and sales personnel experience the lowest figure since the index series was launched in 2014, the number of job advertisements in this sector sky-rocketed in the second six months of 2021. The index has hit a new record high in the current six-month period after all Switzerland’s coronavirus measures were lifted in mid-February 2022, exceeding pre-pandemic levels (first six months of 2019) by 38%. As a result, skilled catering and sales personnel are benefiting more than any other occupational group from the end of coronavirus restrictions.
Strong job growth for skilled office personnel (+74%)
Skilled office personnel, such as travel agents, general office staff and customer service operatives, were struck a similar blow by the coronavirus crisis. As a result, the jobs advertised for skilled office personnel hit a record low in the second half of 2020. This sharp drop in 2020 might be surprising at first glance, given that measures like working from home and social distancing are relatively easy to implement for these occupations in many instances. However, many companies introduced a hiring freeze in this period, with skilled office personnel affected by this. Besides this, many jobs are advertised for these specialists in sectors that had their activities heavily curtailed by coronavirus-related measures (e.g. the tourism industry).
The recovery phase started as early as the first six months of 2021. Since this point, the number of job advertisements posted for this occupational group has continued to increase, with skilled office personnel seeing an increase of 74% in the current six-month period compared to the same six-month period last year. In addition, the index value for this occupational group has hit a record figure of 28% above pre-pandemic levels. All told, skilled office personnel currently have more jobs open to them than ever before.
Skilled personal services personnel (+68%)
The number of job adverts for skilled personal services personnel, including hairdressers, ticket inspectors, healthcare assistants, carers and caretakers, increased by 68% on the first half of 2021. These occupations were impacted much less by Covid than skilled office personnel and catering and sales personnel were, with their lowest value during the pandemic in the first six months of 2021 just 4% lower than their pre-pandemic value in the first six months of 2019. In the second half of 2021, the number of jobs being advertised sky-rocketed, reaching a record high of 62% above pre-pandemic levels in the current six-month period.
Slower growth for academic computer science professions (+15%)
Academic computer science professions, including occupations such as software developers and database specialists, reached their nadir during the pandemic in the second half of 2020. At this point, the number of job advertisements in this field was 16% down on the same period in the previous year (second half of 2019). This occupational group was able to enjoy a comparatively swift recovery from here on, already reaching pre-Covid levels by the next six-month period (first six months of 2021). Job growth has, however, slowed down somewhat since the second half of 2021, which explains its rather lower increase (15%) on the first six months of 2021. Nevertheless, this occupational group has also reached a record peak of 17% above pre-pandemic levels for the first six months of 2022.
"Academic computer science professions were primarily able to benefit from the fact that digitalisation was ascribed a higher economic priority by the pandemic. In 2021, companies increased their investments in digitalisation projects ,with the aim of speeding up their transformation processes. These investments led to rapid growth in demand for suitable IT specialists.’"
Yanik Kipfer, Swiss Job Market Monitor
Demand for skilled technology personnel stabilises at pre-pandemic level (+11%)
Skilled technology personnel, including electricians, technical draughtspeople and civil engineers, enjoyed an 11% increase in job advertisements, compared to the same period in the previous year. In the first six months of 2020, the start of the coronavirus pandemic saw the job market for skilled technology personnel contract by 18% compared to the equivalent six-month period in the previous year. However, they were able to recoup this loss, with skilled technology personnel reaching pre-pandemic levels by the second half of 2021. The number of job advertisements has stabilised at this level since then.
Persistently low demand for managers after the outbreak of coronavirus (-2%)
Management is the only occupational group that has not seen much change compared to the first six months of 2021. In the first half of 2020, the number of job advertisements posted for management dropped by 20% compared to the same six months in the year before the pandemic (first six months of 2019). The index value for management has remained at a comparatively low level since then.
"Unlike the other occupational groups, we have not seen increased demand for management since the pandemic broke out. The post-pandemic recovery has led to international and domestic demand alike increasing over a very short period of time within the past year. At present, many companies remain faced with the challenge of swiftly servicing high levels of demand, and they primarily need to focus on expanding their workforce to achieve this. If companies don’t have the necessary skilled workers, like chefs, tradespeople and office staff, they cannot maintain their operational activities. As a result, their search for management is taking a back seat."
Marcel Keller, Country Head at Adecco Switzerland
Side note: the proportion of employees in each occupational group
The below table depicts how employees are distributed across the occupational groups in Switzerland and is intended to give an insight into the size of Switzerland’s various occupational groups. The data was sourced from the federal statistical office and relates to 2020.
Distribution of employees by occupational group (as at 2020)
|Total (in 1000)
|Skilled construction, agriculture and support personnel
|Skilled office personnel
|Academic social affairs professions
|Skilled personal services personnel
|Skilled commercial, administration and trade personnel
|Skilled catering and sales personnel
|Academic health professions
|Skilled technology personnel
|Skilled trade and industry personnel
|Skilled construction and development personnel
|Academic economics professions
|Academic natural science professions
|Academic computer science professions
Source: Federal Statistical Office