Skilled Swiss labour becomes more flexible

An increasing number of people in Switzerland are working in offices and are highly skilled

One in two Swiss is no longer working in the profession in which he or she initially qualified, according to a survey.

This content was published on November 9, 2004 - 17:42

Women are still discriminated against in schooling and on the labour market.

Professional flexibility increased from 38.4 per cent in 1980 to 49.7 per cent in 2000, and the trend is more prevalent among highly skilled people, according to the study by the Federal Statistics Office published on Tuesday.

“More than 70 per cent of the people in leading positions have changed their profession”, said Yves Flückiger of Geneva University.

The authors of the study say the figures prove that the Swiss education system adapted well to the demands of the labour market.

Over the past two decades the number of people with higher education nearly doubled from 9.9 per cent to 18.3 per cent.

However, observers note that the rate is still lower than in many other European countries.


The study reveals that women and foreigners have made up some ground.

But the report points out that more than one third of all women have only completed the mandatory nine years of schooling. The rate among men is ten per cent lower.

Women also lag behind at higher education. One in four men has a degree or a certificate from a university or a technical college, but only one in ten women has a similar education.

Despite some progress over the years experts are calling for increased efforts to grant women equal opportunities as enshrined in the constitution.

They warned that cuts in public spending and moves to privatise the education system would slow down such efforts.

The report is based on data collected during the 2000 census in Switzerland.

swissinfo with agencies

In brief

Children of parents with no academic background are five times less likely to go to university or a technical college than children from a middle class family.

The number of people who took early retirement has increased nearly 17% between 1990 and 2000.

Part-time employment has become more widespread with 26% of people working part-time in 2000 against 12% in 1970.

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Key facts

More than 70% of people in leading positions are no longer working in the professions they initially qualified.
55% of people with a university degree have changed profession.
The number of people with higher education has doubled between 1980 and 2000.

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