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university challenge Swiss university grads enjoy strong job prospects

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The University of Lucerne, where the unemployment rate of graduates a year after completing studies is 1.7%.

(© KEYSTONE / URS FLUEELER)

One year after finishing their studies, some 95% of Swiss university graduates have found work, according to official government statistics. The numbers fare well in comparison with other European nations.

The figures, released on Monday by the Federal Statistical Office (FSO), show that just 4.8% of Swiss graduates are still unemployed a year after graduating, a number that tallies with the overall unemployment rate in the country.

The percentage is favourable compared with the surrounding European Union countries, where the average unemployment rate of third-level graduates between one and three years after graduation is 15.1%, according to Eurostatexternal link.

However, the picture is far from homogenous within Switzerland, and geography, education type, and age reveal sharp differences.

For example, university graduates from French- and Italian-speaking cantons in the south and east are much more likely to be unemployed: 9.6% of University of Geneva graduates are out of work after a year, while the figure for Neuchâtel and Lugano is 7.5% and 7% respectively.

In contrast, the universities in Lucerne (1.7%), the Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich (2.1%), St Gallen (2.7%) and Bern (2.8%) offer almost full employment outcomes.

Graduates of teacher training collegesexternal link – rather than academic or vocational universities – have the best opportunities (0.6% unemployment rate) and also the best financial prospects, earning an average of 12% more than other third-level graduates, the statistics show.

Age is also a factor: graduates who finish before the age of 25 have better prospects than those that earn their degree after the age of 30, even though the latter earn more.

Practical and technical degrees in areas such as IT, medicine, and pharmaceutical trump liberal arts degrees and qualifications in art, theatre, film, and design for employment prospects.

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