The Swiss engineering industry is turning to young people, women and older workers to meet a dire need for employees in the coming years. Its trade organisation says the February vote limiting immigration from Europe has compounded its recruitment woes.
“With the [immigration] initiative, the skills shortage issue has taken on a new dimension,” said Hans Hess, the president of Swissmem, as the mechanical industry association is known. He adds that 75% of Swissmem members struggled to recruit qualified workers even before the passage of the initiative calling for quotas on immigrants from the European Union.
On Wednesday, Swissmem announced its recruitment strategy going forward would involve offering more flexible work terms such as job sharing and telecommuting in order to attract workers currently lacking in the industry. In particular, the trade association hopes to attract more women – which currently make up only a quarter of its workers – as well as older workers and apprentices. Hess said last month that the branch’s members were having trouble filling the last five to 7% of their apprenticeship positions.
Over the next five years, Swissmem will have to recruit 17,000 new workers per year to fill the gaps being left by those who will retire.
Also on Wednesday, the branch announced sales and exports had stagnated in the second quarter of 2014 and that just 38.7% of member companies are optimistic about their business expectations in the next 12 months, compared to 54.1% optimism at the beginning of 2014.